The Curley Effect


Glaeser, Edward L, and Andrei Shleifer. 2005. “The Curley Effect.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization 21 (1): 1-19.


James Michael Curley, a four-time mayor of Boston, used wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor. As a consequence, Boston stagnated, but Curley kept winning elections. We present a model of using redistributive politics to shape the electorate, and show that this model yields a number of predictions opposite from the more standard frameworks of political competition, yet consistent with empirical evidence.

Last updated on 07/26/2012