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The Control of Politicians in Normal Times and Times of Crisis: Wealth Accumulation by U.S. Congressmen, 1850-1880

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  • Pablo Querubin
  • James M. Snyder, Jr.

Abstract

We employ a regression discontinuity design based on close elections to estimate the rents from a seat in the U.S. congress between 1850-1880. Using census data, we compare wealth accumulation among those who won or lost their first race by a small margin. We find evidence of significant returns for the first half of the 1860s, during the Civil War, but not for other periods. We hypothesize that increased opportunities from the sudden spike in government spending during the war and the decrease in control by the media and other monitors might have made it easier for incumbent congressmen to collect rents.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17634.

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Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Publication status: published as Snyder JM, Querubin P. The Control of Politicians in Normal Times and Times of Crisis: Wealth Accumulation by U.S. Congressmen, 1850-1880 . :40Quarterly Journal of Political Science. 2013;8(4)9-450.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17634

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  1. Andrea Mattozzi & Antonio Merlo, 2007. "Political Careers or Career Politicians?," NBER Working Papers 12921, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
  3. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  4. David Austen-Smith, 1987. "Interest groups, campaign contributions, and probabilistic voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 54(2), pages 123-139, January.
  5. Michael Smart & Daniel M. Sturm, 2006. "Term Limits and Electoral Accountability," CEP Discussion Papers dp0770, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  6. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule To Estimate The Effect Of Class Size On Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575, May.
  7. Paul Belleflamme & Jean Hindriks, 2001. "Yardstick Competition and Political Agency Problems," Working Papers 441, Queen Mary, University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
  8. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2010. "Optimal bandwidth choice for the regression discontinuity estimator," CeMMAP working papers CWP05/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. Edward L. Glaeser & Claudia Goldin, 2004. "Corruption and Reform: An Introduction," NBER Working Papers 10775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Ferguson, Thomas & Voth, Hans-Joachim, 2005. "Betting on Hitler - The Value of Political Connections in Nazi Germany," CEPR Discussion Papers 5021, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2002. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-037, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Sep 2004.
  12. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  13. Daron Acemoglu & Georgy Egorov & Konstantin Sonin, 2010. "Political Selection and Persistence of Bad Governments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1511-1575, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Della Vigna, Stefano & Durante, Ruben & Knight, Brian & La Ferrara, Eliana, 2014. "Market-based Lobbying: Evidence from Advertising Spending in Italy," CEPR Discussion Papers 9813, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Kaisa Kotakorpi & Panu Poutvaara & Marko Terviö, 2013. "Returns to Office in National and Local Politics," CESifo Working Paper Series 4542, CESifo Group Munich.

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