Public goods and ethnic divisions

Alberto Alesina, Reza Baqir, William Easterly

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We present a model that links heterogeneity of preferences across ethnic groups in a city to the amount and type of public goods the city supplies. We test the implications of the model with three related data sets: U. S. cities, U. S. metropolitan areas, and U. S. urban counties. Results show that the shares of spending on productive public goods - education, roads, sewers and trash pickup - in U. S. cities (metro areas/urban counties) are inversely related to the city's (metro area's/county's) ethnic fragmentation, even after controlling for other socioeconomic and demographic determinants. We conclude that ethnic conflict is an important determinant of local public finances.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1243-1284
    Number of pages42
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Economics
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Nov 1999

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Economics and Econometrics


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