This study assesses how perceptions about the quality of legal institutions affect entrepreneurial activity across US states. We employ survey data from the US Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform regarding both the overall perceived institutional quality within a state and a multitude of subcategories. With a panel data set covering 2002–08, we find that along with overall legal quality, entrepreneurial activity across states is positively correlated with better perceptions about punitive damages, summary judgment, rules of discovery and admission of scientific and technical evidence at trial. Interestingly, interacting these variables with economic freedom typically generates non-results, though this is not the case when considering only opportunity entrepreneurship. Implications are discussed.
This article investigates the implications of Baumol’s cost disease for a publicly provided good in the presence of distortionary taxation. A model is presented in which the publicly provided good experiences low labour productivity growth relative to the private good. The public sector will grow monotonically with the productivity differential between sectors and the tax rate will be pushed to the top of the Laffer curve over time. This article also finds that the desire for redistribution will be crowded out by the impact of unbalanced growth and Baumol’s cost disease.
We recently marked the 60th anniversary of the book that established the field of public choice – The Calculus of Consent by James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock. It was also the 30th anniversary of Elinor Ostrom et al’s ‘Covenants with and without a sword’, in which she demonstrated the capacity of individuals for self-governance without submission to an external authority. This article considers these two foundational works as a starting point from which to explore the intellectual tradition of ‘democratic optimism’ in public choice. The Buchanan/Ostrom legacy is an unshakable faith in the capacity of individuals for self-governance, a significant departure from more orthodox thinking that presumed the necessity of a social planner to oversee, coordinate and enforce collective actions. Their work also illustrates the importance of questioning the assumptions of economic models and modes of thought. Examination of antecedent assumptions is useful not only for understanding the depth and complexity of economic and political choices, but also for thinking about the history of the economics discipline, the viability of research programmes and the ‘danger of self-evident truths’.
This article explores James M. Buchanan’s contributions to urban economics and urban public finance. Buchanan never self-identified as an ‘urban economist’, so his contributions to the field have blended into his broader body of work on public finance and externalities. However, in a series of papers in the 1960s and 1970s, Buchanan developed an urban fiscal club framework for thinking about urban problems that he used to analyse cities’ tax policy and the negative externalities of congestion, crime and pollution. By drawing out those ideas and their relation to each other, we can reconstruct Buchanan as an urban economist. This reconstruction casts new light on Buchanan’s service with several academic and federal urban policy commissions, including the Committee on Urban Public Expenditures and Richard Nixon’s Task Force on Urban Affairs and Task Force on Model Cities. Buchanan’s interest in urban economics has roots in an often-ignored member of his dissertation committee, Harvey Perloff. Perloff’s joint appointment with the Chicago Planning Program brought Buchanan into contact with several urban planners and urban economists who would continue to engage him in urban policy work throughout his career.
This conclusion answers the main question posed by the book: if corporate smart promises are inadequate in responding meaningfully to urban challenges in Africa, how do disruptive practices that use digital platforms do so more effectively? It also tells the conceptual story about how we make sense of socio-technical change in geographies that are politically unstable, spatially fragmented and highly inequitable, using a postcolonial STS approach. The chapter is structured around five dimensions of platform urbanism in African cities: space; the importance of flow and connection in socio-technical relations; the centrality of trust and continuity in enabling the application of technology; the tensions between existing governance frames and emerging regimes because of the digital evolution; and the African city as hybrid, that is, a messy entanglement of the old and the new.
Social mobilization is an important feature of African cities where inequality and political power undermine livelihoods. By examining digitally driven activism in South Africa and Sierra Leone, this chapter explores the notion of ‘cyborg activism’ to illustrate the experiential and hybrid dimensions of such processes. Co-production of knowledge is an important aspect of these examples because the notion of agency is revised and revisited.
Food insecurity is increasing in African cities and became particularly pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic. High food costs and the limited availability of core products are largely informed by inefficient supply chains and the lack of recognition of the informal economy and its role in the supply and distribution of food, as well as its role in enabling livelihoods. The applications discussed in this chapter focus on addressing such inefficiencies and incorporated street vendors and small farmers in the supply chain in Kenya. The chapter also considers community mobilization in relation to food exchange under COVID-19 lockdown measures in South Africa and the use of drones to monitor geophysical change related to crop management in Zanzibar.
The ‘smart city’ is often promoted as a technology-driven solution to complex urban issues. While commentators are increasingly critical of techno-optimistic narratives, the political imagination is dominated by claims that technical solutions can be uniformly applied to intractable problems.
This book provides a much-needed alternative view, exploring how ‘home-grown’ digital disruption, driven and initiated by local actors, upends the mainstream corporate narrative.
Drawing on original research conducted in a range of urban African settings, Odendaal shows how these initiatives can lead to meaningful change.
This is a valuable resource for scholars working in the intersection of science and technology studies, urban and economic geography and sociology.
This chapter is essentially a literature review that focuses primarily on platform urbanism. The aim is to explore current debates on the platform economy in contemporary cities and how this applies to the Global South and Africa. Furthermore, the intention is also to explore the technical qualities of digital platforms and their implications for disruptive urban practices.
One of the most challenging spatial issues in African cities is the lack of adequate and integrated mobility systems. African urban dwellers predominantly rely on paratransit to traverse the city. This chapter explores several locally developed ride-hail applications in Uganda and Kenya, and the implications for future mobility.