NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Minority Representation in Local Government

Brian Beach, Daniel B. Jones, Tate Twinam, Randall Walsh

NBER Working Paper No. 25192
Issued in October 2018
NBER Program(s):Public Economics, Political Economy

Does minority representation in a legislative body differentially impact outcomes for minorities? To examine this question, we assemble a novel dataset identifying the ethnicity of over 3,500 California city council candidates and study close elections between white and nonwhite candidates. We find that narrowly elected nonwhite candidates generate differential gains in housing prices in majority nonwhite neighborhoods. This result, which is not explained by correlations between candidate race and political affiliation or neighborhood racial composition and income, suggests that increased representation may help reduce racial disparities. Consistent with a causal interpretation, results strengthen with increased city-level segregation and council-member pivotality. Observed changes in business patterns and policing underpin our results.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25192

 
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