Economic Geography, Political Inequality, and Public Goods in the Original 13 U.S. States

Pablo Beramendi, Jeffrey Jensen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2235-2282
Number of pages48
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number13-14
StatePublished - Nov 1 2019


  • political economy
  • politics of growth/development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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