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Retail sales on the Internet are growing at a rapid pace. Some states have tapped into this potential revenue source with Internet sales taxes, while others have not. What are the factors that lead states to make these policy decisions? Using a 50-state comparative research design, we find that interest groups, as much as the partisan and economic factors emphasized in previous research on state tax policy, are correlated with adoptions of these state tax innovations. Furthermore, this interest group influence is not limited to a single industry, but comes from self-interested groups representing both sides of the issue, including newly emerging technology interests.
In their 1993 article in this Review, Paul Teske, Mark Schneider, Michael Mintrom, and Samuel Best sought to establish the microfoundations for a model of a competitive market for public services between local governments in polycentric regions. An important part of their model focused on subgroups of informed citizens, especially recent movers. Theoretical analysis was supplemented by an empirical study of the factors shaping accuracy of Long Island homeowners' information about relative expenditures and tax rates of their school districts. David Lowery, W. E. Lyons and Ruth Hoogland DeHoog criticize the relevance of this empirical evidence, suggesting the atypical nature of education as a service (especially in this site) and challenging the sufficiency of the demonstrated levels of information for generating a competitive market. Teske and his colleagues reply by pointing out the general importance of education throughout American local policymaking and by defending the relevance of their measures and conclusions for their market model.
The Tiebout model of competition in the local market for public goods is an important and controversial theory. The current debate revolves around the apparent disparity between macro empirical studies that show greater efficiency in the supply of public goods in polycentric regions compared to consolidated ones and micro evidence of widespread citizen-consumer ignorance, which has been used to argue that individual actions cannot plausibly lead to efficiency-enhancing competition between local governments. We argue that competitive markets can be driven by a subset of informed consumers who shop around between alternate suppliers and produce pressure for competitive outcomes from which all consumers benefit. Using data from a survey of over five hundred households, we analyze the role of these marginal citizen-consumers and incorporate the costs of information gathering and the strategic interests of local governments into the competitive market model.
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