Laurent Bouton (Georgetown University)

"Electoral Systems and Inequalities in Government Interventions"

23 May 2018, 12:00 pm


This paper revisits the economic effects of constitutions. We propose a model ofgovernmental resource allocation under political competition and contrast majori-tarian and proportional representation systems. We derive predictions regardingthe relationship between local –sub-district– level characteristics and inequality ingovernment intervention. Looking at a local level and introducing heterogeneityallows us to uncover a novel sprinkling effect of electoral competition. This effectcan incentivize politician to allocate resources more equally under multi-district ma-joritarian elections than under proportional representation. We identify conditionsunder which this effect more-than-offsets the incentive to target swing districts iden-tified in the literature. Finally, we explore implications for the size of government,the trade-off between targeted transfers and global public goods, and potential re-forms of the US Electoral College.