American Economic Journal Economic Policy February - PDF document

American Economic Journal Economic Policy  February
American Economic Journal Economic Policy  February

American Economic Journal Economic Policy February - Description

aeaweborgarticlesphpdoi 101257pol311 n Federalist Paper 10 James Madison frames the balancing of representation and governance in this way however small the republic may be the representa tives must be raised to a certain number in order to guard ag ID: 64524 Download Pdf


aeaweborgarticlesphpdoi 101257pol311 Federalist Paper

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Brooks: Department of Economics, University of Toronto, 150 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5S3G7 Canada (e-mail:; Phillips: Department of Political Science, Columbia University, 7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg., 420 W. 118th Street, New York, NY 10027 (e-mail:; Sinitsyn: Department of Economics, McGill University, 855 Sherbrooke St., West, Montreal, QC H3A 2T7 Canada (e-mail: We are extremely grateful to Housing and Urban Development staffers Todd Richardson for sending us the historical CDBG allocation data that made this project possible, and to Sue Miller, for exceedingly useful background information and speedy replies. For help assembling the data, we thank John Curry, Governments Division, Census Bureau for the quick and helpful access to the time-consistent Annual Survey of Governments Data, and Alon Axelrod, ICPSR, for advice on the older census data. We thank Janet Currie for encouragement at a critical juncture, Sandra Black, John Galbraith, Shigeo Hirano, Jenny Hunt, Robert Jarman, Yan Lee, Byron Lutz, Enrico Moretti, Daniel Parent, Michael Smart, Colin Stewart, Melissa Schwartzberg, Tymon Tatur, and many seminar participants for helpful comments and advice. Finally, this project has bene!tted from the support of McGill and Columbia University start-up funds, as well as funding from the Russell Sage Foundation’s program on inequality.† To comment on this article in the online discussion forum, or to view additional materials, visit the article page at Cabals of a Few or the Confusion of a Multitude: The Institutional Trade-off Between Representation and Governance†By L"#$ B%&&'(, J)(*+, P$+--+.(, #,/ M#0+1 S+,+*(2,*Our model illustrates how political institutions trade off between the competing goals of representation and governance, where gov-ernance is the responsiveness of an institution to a single pivotal voter. We use exogenous variation from the 30-year history of the federal Community Development Block Grant program to identify this trade-off. Cities with more representative governments—those with larger city councils—use more grant funds to supplement city revenues rather than implementing tax cuts, thereby moving policy further away from the governance ideal. In sum, more representative government is not without cost. (JEL D72, H71, R50)ContentsThe Cabals of a Few or the Confusion of a Multitude: Theory 4II. CDBG History and Rules 14V. Results 14VI. Conclusion RY 2011governance, we mean responsiveness to a single voter pivotal. The governance ideal is a benevolent dictator who perceives and implements the needs of the pivotal voter on every issue. Democratic institutions fall somewhere between these two extremes, using mechanisms to limit voice and thereby facilitate agreement on policies.We begin by building a model to illustrate this trade-off that combines elements from two classic political economy traditions. From David F. Bradford and Wallace E. Oates (1971) we take the intuition that voters enjoy both public and private goods, and so do not desire that an increase in public income via grants be spent entirely by the public sector. From Barry R. Weingast, Kenneth A. Shepsle, and Christopher Johnsen (1981), we take the intuition that in a district-based system of representa-tion, where taxes are levied across all districts, politicians perceive the full bene!ts of a project in their district, but do not perceive the full costs. The Weingast et al. model suggests that total per capita spending increases in the size of the representa-tive body. By combining these two strands of the literature, our model suggests that exogenous variation in grant income.For this analysis, we have assembled a 30-year panel of cities including informa-tion on city !nances, demographics, grant receipts, and council size. Using these data, we !nd that the average city increases total revenues by about one dollar for every one dollar of grant received. The larger the city council, the more responsive 1 We do not mean to suggest that adherence to the preferences of the median voter is the Madisonian governance ideal. In Federalist 51, Madison argues that the preservation of individual liberty requires insulating the govern-ment from the passions of majorities. As is common in the public !nance literature, we treat the governance ideal as perfect responsiveness to the preferences of the median voter. Notions of ideal governance are widely debated OL. 3 NO. 1 3BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL (1962) is a seminal analysis of the common pool issues. Empirical articles include Thomas W. Gilligan and John G. Matsusaka (1995), Gilligan and Matsusaka (2001), John Charles Bradbury and W. Mark Crain ( i ), where C i is the private consumption good and G i is the local public good in district i OL. 3 NO. 1 5BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL nd that the !ve-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has, in many cases, an of!cial “rule of !ve” for dividing funds received from other lev-els of government equally among the !ve supervisorial districts. Thus, we model the total amount of public good approved by the city council as the sum of those ) p G G, where p C is the price of the private good. Thus each voter spends his income on private goods and both the public good in his district and the public good for other districts.The pivotal voter chooses C i and G i to maximize his utility subject to the budget constraint above. Since any one district’s budget constraint depends on all other dis-tricts’ public good choices, we search for the Nash Equilibrium values of private and public good consumption and label them C i * (the sum of the public goods in all districts is then G * the grant, but less than proportionally, 0 # ( p G G * )/#A #A#N � 0. OL. 3 NO. 1 7BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL ( p L)#N. AMERICAN ECONOMIC JOURNAL: ECONOMIC POLICY FEBRUARY 2011they become the principal city of a metropolitan statistical area (Todd Richardson, Robert Meehan, and Michael Kelly 2003).15III. Speci!cation and Identi p c c, t = $ 0 + $ 1 CDBG p c + $ 3 cit y c + $ 4 city tren d c, t . We do not include a separate con-trol for council size as it does not vary over time in our data and is thus included in each city’s !xed effect. All coef 2 CDBG p c + ' 6 city tren d c, t + ' 7 yea r t + % as the responsive-ness of total revenue to grant funds associated with an additional city council member. As we detail below, identi!cation in this estimation comes from the interaction of the 15 At !rst, this 50,000 population discontinuity seems like a promising avenue for identi!cation; we explain in web Appendix B why this does not turn out to be the case. The states and counties that are awarded CDBG funds are restricted from spending those funds on already-entitled cities. In this paper, we focus exclusively on the entitled city portion of the program, which accounts for roughly half of the total program budget. Means for these cities are OL. 3 NO. 1 9BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL (seven members versus eight or more) and the 75th percentile (nine members versus ten or more) of council size.16 Speci!cally, we examine effects above and below a percen-tile of interest p, by estimating(3) total revenue p c c, t = ( 0 + ( 1 CDBG p c ) {1 if C S c * p 4 X c, t ) {1 if C S c � t + % c, t .We again allow the controls X c, t OL. 3 NO. 1 11BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL this issue in the empirical analysis.Grants.—Research has shown that many grant programs are politically moti-vated, and thus that it is critical to control for the endogeneity of grants if we wish to correctly understand how grants affect !scal outcomes (Kevin Milligan and Michael Smart 2005; Lutz 2010; Knight 2002; Gordon 2004). A,c = ((1/2 Our estimation is also aided by the fact that, while each city’s grant is a function OL. 3 NO. 1 13BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL ment that this is the case for the overwhelming majority of cities.Another way to evaluate the identifying variation in the data is to compare it to pre-CDBG era total revenue per capita. If the identifying variation is unrelated to current municipal revenues, it seems likely that it should not be related to municipal revenues just before the program. Figure 1 plots the last pre-CDBG year’s (1974) total revenue on the y-axis. The x-axis reports estimated residuals for 1978 for a regression of the per capita CDBG grant on the local formula rates, city !xed effects, city speci!c trends, year !xed effects and the full set of covariates we will present in our regressions. There is no obvious correlation between these estimated residu-als—the identifying variation—and per capita revenues, which is what we would expect if our identifying assumption is correct. RY 2011IV. DataWe study cities that have ever received CDBG funds. To do this, we combine data from a number of different sources; complete documentation on all datasets is in web Appendix C. From an internal HUD source, we have annual grant alloca-tions from 1975 to 2001; further annual allocation information from 1993 to 2004 comes from the HUD Web site. We join these allocations by city to the Census’s Historical Finance Database, which is a time-consistent series of Annual Surveys of Government data for cities and townships, 1970 to 2004. These data contain rev-enue, expenditure and debt patterns for local governments. This survey samples cit-ies over 75,000 people with certainty in all years, and covers 90 percent of CDBG OL. 3 NO. 1 15BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL scal behavior is not linear in population.The coef!cient falls further when we control for the local rate correlates of the relative rates that determine the grant amount (column 4). Speci!cally, we add con-trols for the local share of housing units accounted for by pre-1940 units, the share of units with overcrowding (the share of units with more than 1.01 persons per room nal speci than one (the p-value for this test is reported below the standard error in Table 1).Identi!cation of the $ 1 ! )(2)(3)( RY 2011tax and expenditure limits and !nd the coef!cient little changed (see Brooks and to be positive, or ' 2 � 0. The interaction result in column 2 con!rms this hypothesis: for each additional council member, an additional 10 cents of each grant dollar contribute to total revenues.According to the model, this effect should be binding at all points in the distri-bution, so we chose to look at coef X c, t ) {1 if C S c � p}). Results for the 25th percentile show that for cities with OL. 3 NO. 1 17BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL *** Signi!cantly different from zero at the 0.1 percent level. ** Signi OL. 3 NO. 1 19BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL !cients and 95 percent con!dence intervals from an indi-vidual regression. The dark shaded box is the con!dence interval for (1 with the letter “S” (small) placed at the point estimate, and the light shaded box is the con!dence interval for (2!rst vertical line in the !rst table estimates equation (3), modi!ed so that the interaction terms are (1 CDBG pc {1 if CSc RY 2011In none of the speci!cations do any of these institutional features appear to impact the translation of grant revenue to total revenue. Of all the variables, the closest to being signi!cant is the number of council members elected by district, which is con-sistent with our hypothesis. Appendix Table 6 repeats these same speci!cations for additional institutional variables, one of which (dummy for council-manager form of government) is signi!cantly related to council size in a cross-sectional regres-sion. Speci!cally, we examine whether the mayor is directly elected, the form of government OL. 3 NO. 1 21BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL 1.896)CDBG ) interaction variable ('2)0.096+3.459-0.0012.201-0.049 (0.050)(6.513)(0.001)(6.853) 0.685)� 25th percentile ((2)1.523***1.286***1.428***1.189***0.946***(0.354)(0.318)(0.302)(0.315) 1 � (20.0180.2200.1850.0900.086p-value, H0: (1 0.354)� 50th percentile ((2)1.824**1.213***1.414***1.369***0.762(0.579)(0.348)(0.413)(0.378) 1 � (20.0630.3840.2380.0950.145p-value, H0: (1 0.304)� 75th percentile ((2)2.477**1.266*1.556*1.718*0.446(0.901)(0.538)(0.739)(0.712) 1 � (20.0400.3800.3780.1400.124p-value, H0: (1 RY 2011by the presence of a mayor-council system) inhibits the translation of grant revenues into total revenues, we do not !nd any conclusive evidence that this is the case – nor ts of representation are not of critical importance. Indeed, understand 2002. “Districting and Government Overspending.” Journal of Political Economy, 110(6): 1318–54.Baron, David P. 1991. “Majoritarian Incentives, Pork Barrel Programs, and Procedural Control.” Amer-ican Journal of Political Science, 35(1): 57–90.Bradbury, John Charles, and W. Mark Crain. 2001. “Legislative Organization and Government Spending: Cross-Country Evidence.” Journal of Public Economics, 82(3): 309–25.Bradford, David F., and Wallace E. Oates. 1971. “An Analysis of Revenue Sharing in a New Approach to Collective Fiscal Decisions.” Quarterly Journal of Economics, 85(3): 416–39.Brennan, Geoffrey, and James M. Buchanan. 1980. The Power to OL. 3 NO. 1 23BROOKS ET AL.: THE CABALS OF A FEW OR THE CONFUSION OF A MUL eview, 101(4): 657–76.Cox, Gary W. 1990. “Multicandidate Spatial Competition.” In Advances in the Spatial Theory of Vot-ing, ed. James M. Enelow and Melvin J. Hinich, 179–98. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Cox, Gary W., and Timothy N. Tutt. 1984. “Universalism and Allocative Decision Making in the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.” Journal of Politics, 46(2): 546–55.Dahlberg, Matz, Eva Mork, Jorn Rattso, and Hanna Agren. 2008. “Using a Discontinuous Grant Rule to Identify the Effect of Grants on Local Taxes and Spending.” Journal of Public Economics, 92(12): 2320–35.Evans, William N., and Emily G. Owens. 2007. “COPS and Crime.” Science, 52

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