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Title: Essays on the Political Economy of Inequalities
Authors: Richard, Brice
Advisors: Case, Anne C
Romer, Thomas
Contributors: Economics Department
Subjects: Economics
Issue Date: 2014
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation addresses the relationships between economic and political inequalities. Recent scholarship has uncovered that the American political system represents citizens unequally, the preferences of the poor being less likely to impact policies than the preferences of high-income citizens. The first chapter develops an original methodology to measure representation and hence documents inequalities of representation. Through a study of the evolution of income and taxes over three presidential administrations, I show that, overall, the American political system is highly unequal. However, I also find significant differences between the two major parties. The second and third chapters analyze whether differences in political participation translate into differences in political representation, through a study of felon disenfranchisement in the United States. Chapter 2 assesses the effects of different regimes of felon disenfranchisement on the political participation of individuals at a higher risk of being disenfranchised due to a current or past felony sentence. I show that in states where felons are disenfranchised beyond completion of sentence, males and African American males in particular vote less when compared to other demographic groups in these states as well as the same demographic groups in states that do not disenfranchise felons for life. Chapter 3 develops a theoretical framework linking political participation and levels of local public good provision from state governments. This relationship is hard to establish empirically, given potential endogeneity biases. In the context of felon disenfranchisement, I show that levels of political participation have decreased in poor and African American communities in states that disenfranchise felons for life, but that the same is not true in comparable states that only disenfranchise felons during their sentence. I then show that, consistent with the theoretical framework, levels of public good provision have followed similar patterns, with poor and African American communities receiving less compared to better off communities in states that disenfranchise felons for life. Overall the paper shows that lower levels of political participation do lead to lower levels of representation, therefore offering a potential explanation for inequalities of representation and highlighting the potential vicious circle between economic and political inequalities.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics

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