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The Retrenchment Hypothesis and the Extension of the Franchise in England and Wales

Toke S Aidt (), Martin Daunton and Jayasri Dutta ()

Cambridge Working Papers in Economics from Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge

Abstract: Does local democracy help or hinder the solution of collective action problems? We study this question in the context of public spending on health-related urban amenities in a panel of 75 municipal boroughs in England and Wales in 1868, 1871 and 1886. We .nd evidence of a U-shaped relationship between spending on urban amenities and the extension of the local voting franchise. We argue that this retrenchment e¤ect arose because middle class taxpayers were unwilling to pay the cost of poor sanitation and the urban elites, elected on a narrow franchise, were instrumental for sanitary improvements. Our model of taxpayer democracy suggests that the retrenchment e¤ect is related to forced enfranchisement of the middle class through nation-wide reforms.

Keywords: Voting franchise; retrenchment; local public goods; sanitation. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D62 D78 H71 N93 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-his, nep-pbe, nep-pol and nep-ure
Date: 2008-04
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