The Curley Effect
NBER Working Paper No. 8942
James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston, used wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor. Boston as a consequence stagnated, but Curley kept winning elections. We present a model of the Curley effect, in which inefficient redistributive policies are sought not by interest groups protecting their rents, but by incumbent politicians trying to shape the electorate through emigration of their opponents or reinforcement of class identities. The model sheds light on ethnic politics in the United States and abroad, as well as on class politics in many countries including Britain.
Published: Glaeser, Edward L. and Andrei Shleifer. "The Curley Effect: The Economics Of Shaping The Electorate," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, 2005, v21(1,Apr), 1-19.