A large and fruitful literature has focused on the impact of colonial legacies on long-term development. Yet the mechanisms through which these legacies get transmitted over time remain ambiguous. This article analyzes the choice and effects of legislative representation as one such mechanism, driven by elites interested in maximizing jointly economic prospects and political influence over time. We focus on malapportionment in the legislatures of the original 13 British North-American colonies. Their joint independence created a unique juncture in which postcolonial elites simultaneously chose the legislative and electoral institutions under which they would operate. We show that the initial choice of apportionment in the state legislatures is largely a function of economic geography, that such a choice generated persistent differences in representation patterns within states (political inequality), and that the latter shaped public goods provision in the long run.
- political economy
- politics of growth/development
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science