Ben Bradlow, Postdoctoral Fellow, Weatherhead Scholars Program, Harvard University
Bruno Carvalho, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and African and African American Studies
Alisha Holland, Associate Professor of Government, Harvard University
The divergent trajectories of São Paulo and Johannesburg’s distribution of urban public goods — housing, sanitation, and collective transportation — since their respective countries’ transitions to democracy transform questions about the relationship between democracy and equality into an empirical puzzle: Why are some cities more effective than others at reducing inequality? I argue that Sao Paulo’s success relative to Johannesburg was thanks to the sequence and configuration of two factors: the “embeddedness” of the local state in civil society, especially housing movements, and the “cohesion” of the local state to coordinate across scales of government.