Economic Geography, Political Inequality, and Public Goods in the Original 13 US States
50 Pages Posted: 11 Oct 2018
Date Written: August 18, 2018
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 paper 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 thirteen 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.
Keywords: democratization, institutions, historical legacies
JEL Classification: D72, D78, N41
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation