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A Public Choice Analysis of Congressional Franking

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  • S. Tyler Edwards
  • E. Frank Stephenson
  • Melissa M. Yeoh

Abstract

Based on the rational choice assumption that politicians seek to enhance their reelection chances, the authors posit and test several hypotheses about how the use of franked mail varies across members of the House of Representatives. This study improves upon the existing literature by using a sample of all full-term representatives and by using multiple regression analysis that allows for estimation of the marginal effect of each explanatory variable after controlling for other factors that might affect franking behavior. The results of this study indicate that (1) politicians seeking higher office tend to make greater use of franked mail while those who are retiring engage in less franking, (2) narrower electoral margins, especially for first termers, are associated with more franking, (3) representatives who have larger campaign expenditures also have higher levels of franked mail, and (4) franked mail increases with a congressional district’s distance from Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Tyler Edwards & E. Frank Stephenson & Melissa M. Yeoh, 2012. "A Public Choice Analysis of Congressional Franking," Public Finance Review, , vol. 40(4), pages 537-551, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:pubfin:v:40:y:2012:i:4:p:537-551
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Thornton, John, 2007. "Further evidence on revenue decentralization and inflation," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 95(1), pages 140-145, April.
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    Keywords

    Congress; franked mail; public choice;

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