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Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965

  • Elizabeth U. Cascio
  • Ebonya L. Washington

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) has been called one of the most effective pieces of civil rights legislation in U.S. history, having generated dramatic increases in black voter registration across the South. We show that the expansion of black voting rights in some southern states brought about by one requirement of the VRA - the elimination of literacy tests at voter registration - was accompanied by a shift in the distribution of state aid toward localities with higher proportions of black residents, a finding that is consistent with models of distributive politics. Our estimates imply an elasticity of state transfers to counties with respect to turnout in presidential elections - the closest available measure of enfranchisement - of roughly one.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17776.

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Date of creation: Jan 2012
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Publication status: published as “Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds Following the Voting Rights Act of 1965” (with Ebonya Washington), The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 129(1), 379-433, February 2014.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17776
Note: DAE ED POL
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  1. Sarah J. Reber, 2011. "From Separate and Unequal to Integrated and Equal? School Desegregation and School Finance in Louisiana," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 404-415, May.
  2. Cascio, Elizabeth & Gordon, Nora & Lewis, Ethan & Reber, Sarah, 2008. "From Brown to busing," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 296-325, September.
  3. Robert A. Margo, 1990. "Race and Schooling in the South, 1880-1950: An Economic History," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number marg90-1, October.
  4. Orley Ashenfelter & William J. Collins & Albert Yoon, 2006. "Evaluating the Role of Brown v. Board of Education in School Equalization, Desegregation, and the Income of African Americans," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 8(2), pages 213-248.
  5. Elizabeth U. Cascio & Nora E. Gordon & Sarah J. Reber, 2011. "Federal Aid and Equality of Educational Opportunity: Evidence from the Introduction of Title I in the South," NBER Working Papers 17155, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Tim Besley, 2002. "Political institutions and policy choices: evidence from the United States," IFS Working Papers W02/13, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  7. Trebbi, Francesco & Aghion, Philippe & Alesina, Alberto, 2008. "Electoral Rules and Minority Representation in U.S. Cities," Scholarly Articles 4551793, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Elizabeth Cascio & Nora Gordon & Ethan Lewis & Sarah Reber, 2009. "Paying for Progress: Conditional Grants and the Desegregation of Southern Schools," NBER Working Papers 14869, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John J. Donohue & James J. Heckman & Petra E. Todd, 2002. "The Schooling Of Southern Blacks: The Roles Of Legal Activism And Private Philanthropy, 1910-1960," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(1), pages 225-268, February.
  10. Filer, J.E. & Kenny, L.W. & Morton, R.B., 1989. "Voting Laws, Educational Policies And Minority Turnout," Papers 89-7, Florida - College of Business Administration.
  11. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
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