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Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Race, Representation and Local Governments in the US South: the effect of the Voting Rights Act

Author(s): Andrea Bernini, Giovanni Facchini and Cecilia Testa

Publication Date: March 2018

Keyword(s): Enfranchisement, Identity Politics, Local Elections, Minority Rights and Public Good Provision

Programme Area(s): Economic History and Public Economics

Abstract: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 redefined race relations in the US South. Yet, evidence on its effect on black office-holding remains scant. Using novel data on black elected officials between 1962-1980, we assess the causal impact of the VRA on the racial make-up of local governments in the Deep South. Exploiting predetermined differential exposure of US Southern counties to the VRA mandated federal intervention, we show that the latter fostered local black office-holding, particularly in the powerful county commissions, controlling local public finances. The change in the racial composition of county governments led to faster capital spending growth.

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Bibliographic Reference

Bernini, A, Facchini, G and Testa, C. 2018. 'Race, Representation and Local Governments in the US South: the effect of the Voting Rights Act'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research. https://cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=12774