Please join us Wednesday April 14 at Noon
Making the Public Work: The Politics of Mass Transit in Latin America
Dr. Alisha Holland • Harvard University
Registration Required: https://rb.gy/xx3gjg
In much of the world, public transportation infrastructure is sorely needed. Political economy models suggest that provision lags because uneven access and use of public transit fragments political coalitions. Yet traditional survey techniques tell us little about who supports valence issues, such as mass transit. I instead adopt a novel survey approach from economics designed to elicit preference intensity. I then sample households at different distances from a subway project in Bogotá, Colombia. Contra conventional expectations, local geography does not matter. Those who use public transit the least and pay the most for its construction—the middle class—are its strongest supporters. An experiment, focus groups, and a global data set on subway construction suggests that a growing middle class often is a key advocate of public transit investment but not for their own direct use: the middle class wants others to take public transportation to shorten their commutes. The implication is that a growing middle class might help to strengthen public goods provision in urban areas, particularly when political parties are able to highlight the quality of life benefits that can result from public investments.