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Research Seminars & Workshops @ IRES

Dr Tracy Gordon
School of Public Policy, University of Maryland

When Government Isn't Enough:
Public and Private Responses to Population Heterogeneity


30 September 2009 (Wed)


4.00 pm - 5.30 pm


RMI Seminar Room. Level 4
21 Heng Mui Keng Terrace


Rising income inequality in the United States has sparked concern about individual disparities in not only economic well-being but also political participation and efficacy. These concerns have prompted large scale inquiries into the consequences of inequality for national politics and policies, such as federal taxation and immigration (e.g., McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal, 2006; Bartels, 2004). To date, however, there has not been a comparable effort at the local level. This omission is surprising given the well known difficulties that inequality and heterogeneity more generally create for the provision and consumption of local public goods. This paper represents a first step in analyzing relationships between income inequality and local government finances. It also examines links how inequality is related to the incidence of so-called “private governments,” or homeowner associations that perform quasi-municipal functions. Preliminary results suggest a negative association between income inequality and local spending as well as private government formation. Future work will gauge the robustness of these associations to alternative measures of inequality as well as addressing the critical issue of endogenous local inequality.

About The Speaker

Dr. Gordon researches topics in state and local public finance, political economy, and urban economics and teaches courses in public financial management and tax policy at the Maryland School of Public Policy. She is an affiliated scholar with the Urban Institute, an adjunct fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, and a faculty associate of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Education and Maryland Population Research Center. She has authored reports and journal articles on state and local budgeting, local property taxes, the local initiative process, and so-called “private governments” or homeowner associations in planned developments. She holds a Ph.D. in public policy with a concurrent M.A. in economics from the University of California, Berkeley.

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