Autor: Lopez Santiago

Institución: Universidad de San Andrés

Año: 2023

JEL: P00, Z10


In April, 2014 the residents of Flint City, Michigan, U.S.A, saw their everyday water supply switched from the Lake Huron, 70 miles away, to the local Flint River, a result of the city’s and the State’s efforts to reduce Flint's fiscal deficit and achieve fiscal stability. However, this proved to be a highly questionable decision as the waters of Flint River were highly polluted and were not treated accordingly. Thus, when this untreated water began flowing into the city and circulated through an aging infrastructure, extremely high concentrations of lead and pernicious bacteria formed and households and businesses began to consume contaminated water which could provoke severe health hazards with both short and long term impacts. I leverage this unique natural experiment, which offers a clear-cut instance of a poor Administration regardless of political subjectivity, to assess whether the residents of Flint City, in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, were more or less willing to participate in the democratic process. Using an event study differences-in-differences estimator, I then find evidence of a sizeable decrease in voter turnout (25% percent on average in the 2014, 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections) in Flint City since the start of the Crisis.