The Annals of Regional Science

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 203–233 | Cite as

Crowd out or crowd in?: The effects of common interest developments on political participation in California

  • Tracy M. Gordon


Individuals are increasingly opting to contract directly with “private governments,” or common interest developments (CIDs) such as condominiums, cooperatives, and planned developments, for many of the traditional functions of general-purpose local government. Over the past thirty years, CIDs have proliferated throughout the U.S. In 1962, there were fewer than 500 such organizations nationally while today there are an estimated 205,000 CIDs including over 42 million Americans. According to several scholars, the past thirty years have also witnessed declines in civic engagement or “social capital.” This paper investigates links between these trends. In particular, it analyzes the effects of planned developments (PDs) in California on voting behavior in statewide general elections during the 1990s. Results indicate that areas with PDs do not exhibit significantly different voter turnout, registration, and party affiliation once potential selection bias is taken into account. These findings undermine the popular view that private governments crowd out participation in traditional public government.

JEL classification: H7 H4 R5 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tracy M. Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.Public Policy Institute of California, 500 Washington Street, Suite 800, San Francisco, CA 94111, USA (e-mail:

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