To effectively govern, elected and appointed municipal officials rely on the cooperation and compliance of individuals and private actors. Particularly when policy directives lack strong enforcement mechanisms, many citizens choose not to comply. We investigate the extent to which shared ethnic/racial identity between residents and municipal political leaders increases residents’ willingness to comply with government issued evacuation orders in the context of an impending natural disaster. Drawing on a large-scale embedded survey experiment of Florida residents who lived through Hurricane Irma in 2017, we provide evidence that descriptive representation increases the likelihood of individual compliance with local government evacuation orders. Additionally, we find that if non-governmental partners encourage evacuation, then resident compliance increases, particularly among people of color who do not share the race of their city official. The results speak to the importance of descriptive representation at the local level, especially in settings that can mean the difference between life and death.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Urban Studies