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How Elections Matter: Theory and Evidence from Environmental Policy

  • John A List
  • Daniel M Sturm

This paper explores to what extent secondary policy issues are influenced by electoral incentives. We develop a two-dimensional political agency model, in which a politician decides on both a frontline policy issue and a secondary policy issue. The model predicts when the incumbent should manipulate the secondary policy to attract voters. We test our model by using panel data on environmental policy choices in the U. S. states. In contrast to the popular view that secondary policies are largely determined by lobbying, we find that there are strong effects of electoral incentives. Copyright by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Article provided by MIT Press in its journal The Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Volume (Year): 121 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 (November)
Pages: 1249-1281

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Handle: RePEc:tpr:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:4:p:1249-1281
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  1. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1994. "Protection for Sale," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(4), pages 833-50, September.
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  9. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 2003. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 7-73, March.
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  11. Congleton, Roger D, 1992. "Political Institutions and Pollution Control," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 74(3), pages 412-21, August.
  12. Theo Eicher & Thomas Osang, 2002. "Protection for Sale: An Empirical Investigation: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1702-1710, December.
  13. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1993. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," NBER Working Papers 4575, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
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  16. Mayer, Wolfgang, 1984. "Endogenous Tariff Formation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(5), pages 970-85, December.
  17. Sajal Lahiri & Pascalis Raimondos-Møller, 1999. "Lobbying by Ethnic Groups and Aid Allocation," EPRU Working Paper Series 99-05, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics, revised Oct 2003.
  18. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
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