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Race, Representation, and Local Governments in the US South: The Effect of the Voting Rights Act

Bernini, Andrea; Facchini, Giovanni; Testa, Cecilia

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Authors

Andrea Bernini

CECILIA TESTA CECILIA.TESTA@NOTTINGHAM.AC.UK
Professor of Political Economy



Abstract

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 redefined race relations in the United States. Yet evidence on its effect on Black office holding remains scant. Using novel data on Black elected officials between 1962 and 1980, we assess the impact of the Voting Rights Act on the racial makeup of local governments in the Deep South. Exploiting predetermined differential exposure of Southern counties to the mandated federal intervention, we show that the latter fostered local Black office holding, particularly in the powerful county commissions, controlling local public finances. In the presence of election by district, covered counties experienced Black representation gains and faster capital spending growth.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 6, 2022
Online Publication Date Mar 14, 2023
Publication Date 2023-04
Deposit Date Aug 12, 2022
Publicly Available Date Mar 15, 2024
Journal Journal of Political Economy
Print ISSN 0022-3808
Electronic ISSN 1537-534X
Publisher University of Chicago Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 131
Issue 4
Pages 994-1056
DOI https://doi.org/10.1086/722092
Keywords Economics and Econometrics
Public URL https://nottingham-repository.worktribe.com/output/9905040
Publisher URL https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/10.1086/722092

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