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Poverty Status and Willingness to Pay for Local Public Services

PAQ, Vol. 33 No. 4, (2009)

This research investigates the relevance of poverty status to explaining residents’ willingness to pay for local public services. Specifically, it inquires whether the poor are willing to pay for services and then compares the poor and their higher income counterparts with respect to willingness to pay. Using a wide array of services, an income measure delineating poverty status, and a research methodology that allows multi-level comparative analysis, we find that the poor overwhelmingly report willingness to pay for such services. Moreover, higher income residents are not superior to the poor in reporting willingness to pay. We discover that the likelihood of reporting willingness to pay is greater among the poor. The implications for enduring assumptions about the poor and service delivery in local government are outlined.

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