Demographic Characteristics and the Public Bundle
55 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2000 Last revised: 16 Sep 2010
Date Written: February 1993
This paper explores the relationship between the demographic characteristics of a community and the quantities of goods and services provided by its government We consider three models of public spending: a traditional "selfish" public choice model in which individuals care only about themselves, a "community preference" model in which an individual's preferred spending depends on the characteristics of his or her community. and a sorting process through which individuals choose communities according to their tastes for public spending. To evaluate these models of spending, we examine how county and state spending in the United States is affected by the age and racial composition, and the total size of a jurisdiction. The estimated effects of demographic characteristics in the state equations are strikingly different from the estimated effects in the county equations, apparently because a jurisdiction's spending is affected differently by its own demographic characteristics and by the characteristics of the surrounding area.
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