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Self-serving legislators? An analysis of the salary-setting institutions of 27 EU parliaments

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  • Karsten Mause

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Abstract

It is often criticized in public debates that politicians in many jurisdictions have the power to set their own salaries. This paper scrutinizes this practice from a constitutional political economy perspective. A novel dataset is presented which provides an empirical overview of the methods used to set the pay for members of parliament (MPs) in the national parliaments of 27 member states of the European Union. There is considerable cross-country variation in this respect. While in the majority of national legislatures MPs to some degree decide on their own salaries (i.e., ‘self-service’ model), in some systems MP pay is set by bodies independent from MPs. A multiple regression analysis provides empirical support for the self-serving-legislators prediction derived from Public Choice theory: controlling for population size and living costs, salaries are systematically higher in legislatures in which MPs have some say in their own salaries. However, this result has to be interpreted with caution as (1) independent wage-setting bodies exist only in five parliaments, and (2) this study could only include MPs’ basic salaries. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Suggested Citation

  • Karsten Mause, 2014. "Self-serving legislators? An analysis of the salary-setting institutions of 27 EU parliaments," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 154-176, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:copoec:v:25:y:2014:i:2:p:154-176
    DOI: 10.1007/s10602-013-9150-y
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    Cited by:

    1. Arnold, Felix & Kauder, Björn & Potrafke, Niklas, 2014. "Outside earnings, absence, and activity: Evidence from German parliamentarians," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 147-157.
    2. Felix Arnold & Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke, 2014. "Beeinträchtigen Nebeneinkünfte die politischen Tätigkeiten von Bundestagsabgeordneten?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 67(18), pages 34-39, September.
    3. Libman Alexander & Schultz André & Graeber Thomas, 2016. "Tax Return as a Political Statement," Review of Law & Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 12(2), pages 377-445, July.
    4. Björn Kauder & Manuela Krause & Niklas Potrafke, 2016. "Electoral Cycles in MPs' Salaries: Evidence from the German States," CESifo Working Paper Series 6028, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Members of parliament; Separation of powers; Paying politicians; European Union; D72; J33; J45;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J33 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Compensation Packages; Payment Methods
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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