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The Prohibition-Repeal Amendments: A Natural Experiment in Interest Group Influence


  • Munger, Michael
  • Schaller, Thomas


The pattern for state support for Prohibition (18th Amendment, 1919) and repeal (21st Amendment, 1933) is analyzed and compared. This comparison is important because Prohibition is the only amendment ever to be repealed. The main thesis is that there was no wholesale change in preferences of citizens. Instead, producer interests failed to mobilize effectively in 1919, and the coupling of moral and economic arguments that worked in 1919 broke apart in 1933. Regression analysis is conducted on state legislatures (for Prohibition) and state referenda on convention delegates (for repeal), so states are observations in the cross-sectional regression analysis. The results broadly support the main thesis. Copyright 1997 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Munger, Michael & Schaller, Thomas, 1997. "The Prohibition-Repeal Amendments: A Natural Experiment in Interest Group Influence," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 90(1-4), pages 139-163, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:90:y:1997:i:1-4:p:139-63

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    Cited by:

    1. Koleman S. Strumpf & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, 2002. "Endogenous Policy Decentralization: Testing the Central Tenet of Economic Federalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-36, February.
    2. John Dinan & Jac C. Heckelman, 2014. "Support for Repealing Prohibition: An Analysis of State-Wide Referenda on Ratifying the 21st Amendment," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(3), pages 636-651, September.
    3. William Keech & Michael Munger, 2015. "The anatomy of government failure," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 164(1), pages 1-42, July.
    4. Thomas Schaller, 1997. "Consent for Change: Article V and The Constitutional Amendment Process," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 195-213, September.
    5. Dostie, Benoit & Dupré, Ruth, 2012. "“The people's will”: Canadians and the 1898 referendum on alcohol prohibition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 498-515.

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