The Politics of Spatial Policies
58 Pages Posted:
Date Written: January 18, 2021
A wide variety of local policies have spatially concentrated costs and diffuse benefits. In many cases, such policies exhibit inefficient underprovision of social goods or inequitable location decisions--with severe consequences for public health, economic output, and racial inequality. We present a formal model to investigate why some spatial policies exhibit problems of equity while others exhibit inefficiency. In the model, policymakers only establish participatory institutions (which convey information to policymakers but produce inefficiencies) when their preferences are moderately biased toward one district. When extremely biased, the policymaker unilaterally benefits one district at the expense of another; when sufficiently egalitarian, the policymaker allows each district to approve or veto projects themselves. We connect the establishment of participatory institutions to the changing structure of local politics in the wake of the Great Society, reflecting both increased equality across neighborhoods and persistent inequality.
Keywords: local politics, nimbyism, formal model, land use policy, the Great Society
JEL Classification: H11, H77, R31, R52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation