The growing phenomenon of government-supporting charities prompts the question of whether these institutions help or hinder public values of equity in service access. Logit and tobit regression analysis using multiple data sources from the California and Florida state parks systems compares public parks with and without supporting “friends” groups. The results suggest that while parks philanthropy has produced real benefits in rallying citizen support for improved public spaces, it also introduces some distributional consequences that policy makers should not ignore. Namely, a philanthropic failure hypothesis is supported whereby wealthier Florida counties with greater income inequality are more likely to benefit from a charity supporting a nearby state park. Finding no similar result in California, the authors conclude that the association between community wealth and park charity presence may also depend on state characteristics such as the funding structure of each state park system, not just community wealth differences.
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