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The Curley Effect: The Economics of Shaping the Electorate

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  • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig
  • Shleifer, Andrei

Abstract

James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston, used wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor. Boston as a consequence stagnated, but Curley kept winning elections. We present a model of the Curley effect, in which inefficient redistributive policies are sought not by interest groups protecting their rents, but by incumbent politicians trying to shape the electorate through emigration of their opponents or reinforcement of class identities. The model sheds light on ethnic politics in the United States and abroad, as well as on class politics in many countries including Britain.

Suggested Citation

  • Glaeser, Edward Ludwig & Shleifer, Andrei, 2005. "The Curley Effect: The Economics of Shaping the Electorate," Scholarly Articles 27867137, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hrv:faseco:27867137
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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Matthew E. Kahn & Jordan Rappaport, 2000. "Why Do The Poor Live In Cities?," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1891, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    2. Edward C. Prescott & Stephen L. Parente, 1999. "Monopoly Rights: A Barrier to Riches," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1216-1233, December.
    3. Acemoglu, Daron & Robinson, James A., 2006. "Economic Backwardness in Political Perspective," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 100(01), pages 115-131, February.
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