Title

The Provision of Local Public Goods in Diverse Communities: Analyzing Municipal Bond Elections

Keywords

municipal bonds, ethnic divisions, collective action problems

Abstract

Scholars have shown that diversity depresses public goods provision. In U.S. cities, racial and ethnic divisions could seriously undermine investment. However, diverse cities spend significant amounts on public goods. We ask how these communities overcome their potential collective action problem. Using a new data set on more than 3,000 municipal bond elections, we show that strategic politicians encourage cooperation. Diversity leads officials to be more selective about requesting approval for investment and more attentive to coalition building. We show that diverse communities see fewer bond elections, but that the bonds proposed are larger and pass at higher rates. Diverse cities tend to offer voters bonds with more spending categories and are more likely to hold referenda during general elections. As a result, diverse cities do just as well as homogenous cities in issuing voter-authorized debt. Thus, political elites perform an important mediating function in the generation of public goods.

Original Publication Citation

Rugh, Jacob S. andJessica Trounstine. 2011. “The Provision of Local Public Goods in Diverse Communities: Analyzing Municipal Bond Elections,”Journal of Politics 73(4): 1038-1050. doi: 10.1017/S0022381611000776

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

2011-10

Publisher

The Journal of Politics

Language

English

College

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Department

Sociology

University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor

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