NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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, Revised in September 2019
NBER Program(s):Public Economics, Political Economy

Does minority representation in a legislative body differentially impact outcomes for minorities? To examine this question, we study close elections for California city council seats between white and nonwhite candidates. We find that 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 can reduce racial disparities. Our results strengthen with increased city-level segregation and councilmember pivotality. Regarding mechanisms, we observe changes in business patterns and policing behavior, which may help explain our results.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w25192

 
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