Racial and Ethnic Representation in Local Government
Daniel B. Jones
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy (Forthcoming)
Does the presence of underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in a legislative body
differentially impact outcomes for members of those groups? We shed light on this question by
studying close elections between white and nonwhite candidates for California city council and
the corresponding impact on housing values, a summary statistic for neighborhood investment.
We find that electing nonwhite rather than white candidates generate differential home value gains
in majority nonwhite neighborhoods. This result, which is not explained by correlations between
candidate race and political affiliation or neighborhood racial composition and income, suggests
that increased representation can reduce racial disparities. Our results strengthen with increased
city-level segregation and councilmember pivotality.