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Money, Political Ambition, and the Career Decisions of Politicians

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  • Michael P. Keane
  • Antonio Merlo

Abstract

We assess the impact of a variety of policies that may influence the career decisions of members of the US Congress. These policies alter incentives to run for re-election, run for higher office or leave Congress, by altering wages, non-pecuniary rewards and career prospects (both in and out of Congress). We find that the effect of most policies varies considerably across different types of politicians. For example, a reduction in the congressional wage would disproportionately induce exit from Congress by "skilled" politicians, Democrats, and politicians who were relatively young when first elected, but not by politicians who most value legislative accomplishments ("achievers"). (JEL D72)

Suggested Citation

  • Michael P. Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2010. "Money, Political Ambition, and the Career Decisions of Politicians," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 186-215, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejmic:v:2:y:2010:i:3:p:186-215
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/mic.2.3.186
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Mattozzi, Andrea & Merlo, Antonio, 2008. "Political careers or career politicians?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 597-608, April.
    2. Caselli, Francesco & Morelli, Massimo, 2004. "Bad politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 759-782, March.
    3. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2005. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 347-373, March.
    4. Messner, Matthias & Polborn, Mattias K., 2004. "Paying politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2423-2445, December.
      • Matthias Messner & Mattias Polborn, 2003. "Paying Politicians," Working Papers 246, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
    5. Ernesto Dal Bó & Pedro Dal Bó & Jason Snyder, 2009. "Political Dynasties," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(1), pages 115-142.
    6. Antonio Merlo, 2005. "Whither Political Economy? Theories, Facts and Issues," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Dec 2005.
    7. Tim Groseclose & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Buying the Bums Out: What's the Dollar Value of a Seat in Congress?," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9923, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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