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Legislative Representation, Bargaining Power, and the Distribution of Federal Funds: Evidence from the U.S. Senate

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  • Brian Knight

Abstract

While representation in the U.S. House is based upon state population, each state has an equal number (two) of U.S. Senators. Thus, relative to the state delegations in the U.S. House, small population states are provided disproportionate bargaining power in the U.S. Senate. This paper provides new evidence on the role of this small state bargaining power in the distribution of federal funds using data on projects earmarked in appropriations bills between 1995 and 2003. Relative to earmarks secured in House appropriations bills, Senate earmarks exhibit a small state advantage that is both economically and statistically significant. The paper also examines two theoretically-motivated channels through which this small state advantage operates: increased proposal power through appropriations committee representation and the lower cost of securing votes due to smaller federal tax shares. Taken together, these two channels explain over 80 percent of the measured small state bias. Finally, a welfare analysis demonstrates the inefficiency of hte measured small state bias.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10385.

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Date of creation: Mar 2004
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10385

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  1. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 2002. "Political economics and public finance," Handbook of Public Economics, in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 24, pages 1549-1659 Elsevier.
  2. Lockwood, Ben, 1998. "Distributive Politics and the Benefits of Decentralisation," CSGR Working papers series 10/98, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation (CSGR), University of Warwick.
  3. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1999. "Centralized versus Decentralized Provision of Local Public Goods: A Political Economy Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Valentino Larcinese & Leonzio Rizzo & Cecilia Testa, 2009. "Do small states get more federal monies?: myth and reality about the US Senate malapportionment," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 25493, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Lockwood, Ben, 2005. "Fiscal Decentralization: A Political Economy Perspective," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 721, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  3. Hans Pitlik & Friedrich Schneider & Harald Strotmann, 2006. "Legislative Malapportionment and the Politicization of Germany's Intergovernmental Transfer System," Public Finance Review, , vol. 34(6), pages 637-662, November.
  4. José Bercoff & Osvaldo Meloni, 2009. "Federal budget allocation in an emergent democracy: evidence from Argentina," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 10(1), pages 65-83, January.
  5. Tiberiu Dragu & Jonathan Rodden, 2010. "Representation and regional redistribution in federations," Working Papers 2010/16, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
  6. Melissa Boyle & Victor Matheson, 2008. "Determinants of the Distribution of Congressional Earmarks Across States," Working Papers 0806, College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics.
  7. Christian Bruns & Oliver Himmler, 2010. "Media activity and public spending," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 11(4), pages 309-332, November.
  8. Gary Hoover & Paul Pecorino, 2005. "The Political Determinants of Federal Expenditure at the State Level," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(1), pages 95-113, April.
  9. Cecilia Testa, 2009. "Do Small States Get More Federal Monies? Myth and Reality About the US Senate Malapportionment," Royal Holloway, University of London: Discussion Papers in Economics 09/04, Department of Economics, Royal Holloway University of London.
  10. Alexander Fink & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "Institutionalized Bailouts and Fiscal Policy: The Consequences of Soft Budget Constraints," CESifo Working Paper Series 2827, CESifo Group Munich.
  11. Brian Knight, 2005. "Estimating the Value of Proposal Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1639-1652, December.
  12. David Albouy, 2013. "Partisan Representation in Congress and the Geographic Distribution of Federal Funds," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(1), pages 127-141, March.

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