The Embattled Metropolis: Big Cities in American State Legislatures
University of Rochester - Department of Political Science
University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science
APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper
We use a new historical dataset to explore the contention of a century’s worth of scholarship that a state’s largest city faces discrimination in its legislature. Looking at thirteen states over a 120-year period, we show that this charge is justified: Bills introduced by members of the big city delegation to govern their local affairs are defeated at much higher rates than similar bills emanating from other parts of the state.
We then test four explanations of this bias against big cities. Surprisingly, we find little evidence that bills from a state’s largest metropolis lose more often when the big city delegation differs from the rest of the state along partisan lines. Instead, demographic differences matter, with cities that have many foreign-born residents, compared with the state as a whole, facing particularly high rates of discrimination. Our analysis also shows that the larger the metropolis grows, the more hostility it faces, both because outstate legislators are threatened by its sheer size and because a larger delegation is likely to have more internal divisions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 29
Keywords: state politics, local governmentworking papers series
Date posted: July 19, 2010 ; Last revised: August 11, 2010
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