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"Let the season of negotiations begin..."

My book manuscript argues that groups with more diverse service demands receive less weight in democratic politics than those with more monotone preferences. As a result, the services they demand will tend to be underfunded. I explore the possibility that multidimensionality of service preferences leads to weak policy leverage for many types of marginalized groups, including those identities derived from income, race or ethnicity, religion, or geography.

In addition to the case study informed by my dissertation research in Brazil (see below), the book will include chapters on service dimensionality of marginalized groups in several other unequal democracies. My survey instrument assesses which identities are politically salient to the voter. I then ask voters to divide a fixed budget between a list of services according to their preferences, so that I can measure not just their preference ordering over various services, but also the margin with which they prefer one service to the next. I then construct a measure of how much the reality of service spending diverges from the expressed preferences. I use this to test whether the diversity of a group's service demands (measured by a Herfindahl index) predicts how divergent service spending is from the group's ideal (controlling for group size). I intend my measure of group preference dimensionality over services to provide a broad measure of group policy efficacy.

My dissertation, "Service Provision in Unequal Democracies: Evidence from Brazil on How the Poor Get Shortchanged," asks why poor voters in Brazil have difficulty imposing their public health service preferences through voting, despite their numerical advantage in universal suffrage political representation. My formal model shows that voters with more symmetrical preferences over public services that compete for a budget receive less weight in the allocation decisions of vote-maximizing, tactically-spending elected politicians  compared to voters that pile the weight of their votes on fewer services. I use original pre-election survey data to estimate revealed preferences for the poor and better-off in Brazil with respect to public health spending on primary care and hospital services. I also estimate the effects of an asymmetry-increasing shift in demands among voters who receive federal transfers. I use local public health spending and individual child mortality data to demonstrate that increased asymmetry among the recipient group is associated with decreased policy influence of the non-recipient group with static preferences.  Expansion of the asymmetry-inducing federal transfer program in a municipality is associated with a corresponding shift in health spending away from the services preferred by the non-recipient poor. Individual child mortality data links the service spending trend with losses in the overall welfare of the non-recipient group, even as the welfare of the recipient group improves.