IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Some aspects of the political economy of election campaign contribution laws


  • Peter Aranson
  • Melvin Hinich


This essay constructs a very general model of an election campaign contributor's decision problem. This model permits one to assess the effects of three variables on the campaign contribution decision in two-candidate elections. These variables are: first, the level of the statutory contribution limit; second, the presence of a statute enforcing disclosure of the source and amount of each contribution; and third, the contributor's subjectively estimated probability that each of the two candidates wins. The findings from the model lead to the conclusions that statutory limits and disclosure work against the candidate whom the contributor believes to be trailing. Moreover, as the statutory contribution limit becomes smaller, the leading candidate's perceived electoral margin needed to receive all of the contributor's budget diminishes to zero. Hence, the Supreme Court majority's decision in Buckley v. Valeo, that the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act does not discriminate invidiously against challengers of incumbents, as well as minor party candidates, is brought into serious question. Copyright Martinus Nijhoff Publishers b.v. 1979

Suggested Citation

  • Peter Aranson & Melvin Hinich, 1979. "Some aspects of the political economy of election campaign contribution laws," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 435-461, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:34:y:1979:i:3:p:435-461
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00225679

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. William Welch, 1974. "The economics of campaign funds," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 20(1), pages 83-97, December.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:71:y:1977:i:01:p:289-304_25 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Russell Pittman, 1977. "Market structure and campaign contributions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 37-52, September.
    4. Dennis Mueller & Robert Tollison & Thomas Willett, 1972. "Representative democracy via random selection," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 12(1), pages 57-68, March.
    5. Burton Abrams & Russell Settle, 1976. "A modest proposal for election reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 37-53, December.
    6. Uri Ben-Zion & Zeev Eytan, 1974. "On money, votes, and policy in a democratic society," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 17(1), pages 1-10, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Keith Poole & Thomas Romer, 1985. "Patterns of political action committee contributions to the 1980 campaigns for the United States House of Representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 47(1), pages 63-111, January.
    2. Timothy Lambie-Hanson, 2013. "Campaign contributions as valence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 3-24, October.
    3. Susan A. Edelman, 1992. "Two Politicians, A Pac, And How They Interact: Two Extensive Form Games," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 4(3), pages 289-306, November.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:34:y:1979:i:3:p:435-461. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla) or (Mallaigh Nolan). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.