THE HOMEVOTER HYPOTHESIS

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Harvard University Press, Jun 30, 2009 - Law - 344 pages
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Just as investors want the companies they hold equity in to do well, homeowners have a financial interest in the success of their communities. If neighborhood schools are good, if property taxes and crime rates are low, then the value of the homeowner's principal asset--his home--will rise. Thus, as William Fischel shows, homeowners become watchful citizens of local government, not merely to improve their quality of life, but also to counteract the risk to their largest asset, a risk that cannot be diversified. Meanwhile, their vigilance promotes a municipal governance that provides services more efficiently than do the state or national government.

Fischel has coined the portmanteau word "homevoter" to crystallize the connection between homeownership and political involvement. The link neatly explains several vexing puzzles, such as why displacement of local taxation by state funds reduces school quality and why local governments are more likely to be efficient providers of environmental amenities. The "Homevoter Hypothesis" thereby makes a strong case for decentralization of the fiscal and regulatory functions of government.

 

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Contents

An AssetMarket Approach to Local Government
1
Local Governments Corporate Form
19
Capitalization Zoning and the Tiebout Hypothesis
39
The Median Voter in Local Government Politics
72
Serrano and the California Tax Revolt
98
The Fruits of SchoolFinance Centralization
129
The Race to the Top in Environmental Protection
162
Beggar Thy Neighbor and Landfill Location
184
How Homevoters Remade Metropolitan Areas
207
Sprawl Metropolitanism and Local Control
229
Reforming and Reaffirming Local Government
260
Case References
291
General References
293
Index
323
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About the author (2009)

William Fischel is Professor of Economics, Dartmouth College.

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