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Political contribution caps and lobby formation: Theory and evidence

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  • Drazen, Allan
  • Limao, Nuno
  • Stratmann, Thomas

Abstract

The perceived importance of "special interest group" money in election campaigns motivates widespread use of caps on allowable contributions. We present a bargaining model in which putting a cap that is not too stringent on the size of the contribution a lobby can make improves its bargaining position relative to the politician, thus increasing the payoff from lobbying. Such a cap will therefore increase the equilibrium number of lobbies when lobby formation is endogenous. Caps may then also increase total contributions from all lobbies, increase politically motivated government spending, and lower social welfare. We present empirical evidence from U.S. states consistent with the predictions of the model. We find a positive effect on the number of PACs formed from enacting laws constraining PAC contributions. Moreover, the estimated effect is nonlinear, as predicted by the theoretical model. Very stringent caps reduce the number of PACs, but as the cap increases above a threshold level, the effect becomes positive. Contribution caps in the majority of US states are above this threshold.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 91 (2007)
Issue (Month): 3-4 (April)
Pages: 723-754

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:91:y:2007:i:3-4:p:723-754

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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References

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  1. Drazen, Allan & Limao, Nuno & Stratmann, Thomas, 2007. "Political contribution caps and lobby formation: Theory and evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(3-4), pages 723-754, April.
  2. Stratmann, Thomas, 1998. "The Market for Congressional Votes: Is Timing of Contributions Everything?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 41(1), pages 85-113, April.
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  4. Asghar Zardkoohi, 1988. "Market structure and campaign contributions: Does concentration matter? A reply," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 187-191, August.
  5. Gene M. Grossman & Elhanan Helpman, 1992. "Protection For Sale," NBER Working Papers 4149, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Stephen Ansolabehere & John M. de Figueiredo & James M. Snyder Jr, 2003. "Why is There so Little Money in U.S. Politics?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 105-130, Winter.
  7. Yeon-Koo Che & Ian Gale, 1998. "Caps on Political Lobbying," Microeconomics 9809003, EconWPA.
  8. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-86, April.
  9. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão, 2004. "Government Gains from Self-Restraint: A Bargaining Theory of Inefficient Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 10375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Prat, Andrea, 2002. "Campaign Advertising and Voter Welfare," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(4), pages 999-1017, October.
  11. Trefler, Daniel, 1993. "Trade Liberalization and the Theory of Endogenous Protection: An Econometric Study of U.S. Import Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(1), pages 138-60, February.
  12. Devashish Mitra, 1999. "Endogenous Lobby Formation and Endogenous Protection: A Long-Run Model of Trade Policy Determination," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1116-1134, December.
  13. Levitt, Steven D, 1994. "Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 777-98, August.
  14. Stephen Ansolabehere & John M. de Figueiredo & James M. Snyder, 2003. "Why Is There So Little Money in Politics?," NBER Working Papers 9409, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Thomas Stratmann & Francisco J. & Aparicio-Castillo, 2006. "Competition policy for elections: Do campaign contribution limits matter?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 177-206, April.
  16. Riezman, Raymond & Wilson, John Douglas, 1997. "Political reform and trade policy," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(1-2), pages 67-90, February.
  17. Russell Pittman, 1988. "Rent-seeking and market structure: Comment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 58(2), pages 173-185, August.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Ujhelyi, Gergely, 2009. "Campaign finance regulation with competing interest groups," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(3-4), pages 373-391, April.
  2. Christopher Cotton, 2010. "Pay-to-Play Politics: Informational lobbying and campaign finance reform when contributions buy access," Working Papers 2010-22, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
  3. Zudenkova, Galina, 2010. "Sincere Lobby Formation," MPRA Paper 28249, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Pastine, Ivan & Pastine, Tuvana, 2006. "Politician Preferences and Caps on Political Lobbying," CEPR Discussion Papers 5913, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Peter Grajzl, 2011. "A property rights approach to legislative delegation," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 177-200, June.
  6. Edward Cartwright & Amrish Patel, 2009. "Does category reporting increase donations to charity? A signalling game approach," Studies in Economics 0924, Department of Economics, University of Kent.
  7. Thomas Stratmann, 2005. "Some talk: Money in politics. A (partial) review of the literature," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(1), pages 135-156, July.
  8. Theilen Bernd, 2008. "Lobbying and Contract Delegation in Public Procurement," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-35, September.
  9. Cotton, Christopher, 2012. "Pay-to-play politics: Informational lobbying and contribution limits when money buys access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 369-386.
  10. Cotton, Christopher, 2009. "Should we tax or cap political contributions? A lobbying model with policy favors and access," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(7-8), pages 831-842, August.
  11. Allan Drazen & Nuno Limão & Thomas Stratman, 2004. "Political Contribution Caps and Lobby Formation: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 10928, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Cartwright, Edward & Patel, Amrish, 2012. "How Category Reporting Can Improve Fundraising," Working Papers in Economics 522, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
  13. Zudenkova, Galina, 2012. "Lobbying as a Guard against Extremism," Working Papers 2072/184036, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Department of Economics.

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