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Political Jurisdictions in Heterogeneous Communities

  • Alberto Alesina
  • Reza Baqir
  • Caroline Hoxby

We investigate how the number and size of local political jurisdictions in an area is determined. Our model focuses on the tradeoff between the benefits of economies of scale and the costs of a heterogeneous population. We consider heterogeneity in income, race, ethnicity, and religion, and we test the model using American school districts, school attendance areas, municipalities, and special districts. Using both cross-sectional and panel analysis, we find evidence of a significant tradeoff between economies of scale and racial heterogeneity. We find weaker tradeoffs between economies of scale and income or ethnic heterogeneity. That is, it appears that people are willing to sacrifice the most, in terms of economies of scale, in order to avoid racial heterogeneity in their jurisdiction.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 7859.

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Date of creation: Aug 2000
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Alesina, Alberto, Reza Baqir and Caroline Hoxby. "Political Jurisdications In Heterogeneous Communities," Journal of Political Economy, 2004, v112(2,Apr), 348-396.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:7859
Note: PE
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  1. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
  2. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods And Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284, November.
  3. Charles M. Tiebout, 1956. "A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 64, pages 416.
  4. Wacziarg, Romain & Spolaore, Enrico & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Economic Integration and Political Disintegration," Scholarly Articles 4553029, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Erzo F. P. Luttmer & Sendhil Mullainathan, 1999. "Network Effects and Welfare Cultures," Working Papers 9903, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Jose A. Scheinkman & Andrei Shleifer, 1995. "Economic Growth in a Cross-Section of Cities," NBER Working Papers 5013, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. La Ferrara, Eliana & Alesina, Alberto, 2000. "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Scholarly Articles 4551796, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, . "Participation in Heterogeneous Communities," Working Papers 151, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  9. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 1999. "Group Loyalty and the Taste for Redistribution," JCPR Working Papers 61, Northwestern University/University of Chicago Joint Center for Poverty Research.
  10. Cutler, David & Vigdor, Jacob & Glaeser, Edward, 1999. "The Rise and Decline of the American Ghetto," Scholarly Articles 2770033, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Epple, Dennis & Platt, Glenn J., 1998. "Equilibrium and Local Redistribution in an Urban Economy when Households Differ in both Preferences and Incomes," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 23-51, January.
  12. Alesina, Alberto & Spolaore, Enrico, 1997. "On the Number and Size of Nations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1027-56, November.
  13. Bolton, Patrick & Roland, GĂ©rard, 1995. "The Break up of Nations: A Political Economy Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 1225, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  14. Cutler, David M & Glaeser, Edward L, 1997. "Are Ghettos Good or Bad?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(3), pages 827-72, August.
  15. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "Does Competition among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1209-1238, December.
  16. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521338257 is not listed on IDEAS
  17. Claudia Goldin & Lawrence F. Katz, 1998. "Human Capital and Social Capital: The Rise of Secondary Schooling in America, 1910 to 1940," NBER Working Papers 6439, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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