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The tragedy of the political commons: Evidence from U.S. Senate roll call votes on environmental legislation

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  • Anwar Hussain

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  • David Laband

Abstract

When the costs of regulation are borne by individuals outside of their political jurisdiction, an elected politician arguably will vote in favor of socially costly regulations because from his/her narrow perspective even small marginal benefits outweigh zero marginal costs. Our empirical analysis of the environmental voting records of U.S. Senators from 1991 to 2002 reveals a pronounced tendency for Senators to vote against (in favor of) environmental bills that impose costs in their (other) states. The straightforward implication is that elected politicians overgraze the regulatory pasture. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Suggested Citation

  • Anwar Hussain & David Laband, 2005. "The tragedy of the political commons: Evidence from U.S. Senate roll call votes on environmental legislation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 124(3), pages 353-364, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:124:y:2005:i:3:p:353-364
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-005-2052-4
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-005-2052-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Maloney, Michael T & McCormick, Robert E & Tollison, Robert D, 1984. "Economic Regulation, Competitive Governments, and Specialized Resources," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 329-338, October.
    2. Pashigian, B Peter, 1985. "Environmental Regulation: Whose Self-interests Are Being Protected?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 23(4), pages 551-584, October.
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    5. Fredriksson, Per G. & Millimet, Daniel L., 2002. "Strategic Interaction and the Determination of Environmental Policy across U.S. States," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(1), pages 101-122, January.
    6. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
    7. Arik Levinson, 1999. "State Taxes and Interstate Hazardous Waste Shipments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 666-677, June.
    8. Crain, W Mark & Muris, Timothy J, 1995. "Legislative Organization of Fiscal Policy," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(2), pages 311-333, October.
    9. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-664, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Herrnstadt, Evan & Muehlegger, Erich, 2014. "Weather, salience of climate change and congressional voting," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 435-448.
    2. Haucap, Justus & Heimeshoff, Ulrich, 2012. "Sind Moscheen in Deutschland NIMBY-Güter?," DICE Ordnungspolitische Perspektiven 23, University of Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf Institute for Competition Economics (DICE).
    3. Tanger, Shaun M. & Laband, David N., 2009. "An empirical analysis of bill co-sponsorship in the U.S. Senate: The Tree Act of 2007," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 11(4), pages 260-265, July.

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