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A Simple Explanation for Why Campaign Expenditures Are Increasing: The Government Is Getting Bigger

  • Lott, John R, Jr
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    This paper shows that most of the large recent increases in campaign spending for federal and state offices can be explained by higher government spending. This result holds for both federal and state legislative campaigns and gubernatorial races and across many different specifications. The irony is that those who seem most concerned about the level of campaign expenditures are also frequently the ones who most strongly support increasing the size of government. Evidence is also examined on whether it is the composition and not just the level of expenditures that determines campaign expenditures and whether higher government expenditures similarly results in more candidates competing for office. Finally, by focusing on the symptoms and not the root causes of ever higher campaign expenditures, this paper argues that the current public policy debate risks changing the form in which payments are made rather than actually restricting the level of competition. Copyright 2000 by the University of Chicago.

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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467459
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    Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

    Volume (Year): 43 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 2 (October)
    Pages: 359-93

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    Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:43:y:2000:i:2:p:359-93
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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    1. Crain, William Mark & Tollison, Robert D, 1976. "Campaign Expenditures and Political Competition," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 19(1), pages 177-88, April.
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    4. Dick, Andrew R. & Lott, John Jr., 1993. "Reconciling voters' behavior with legislative term limits," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 1-14, January.
    5. Peltzman, Sam, 1980. "The Growth of Government," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(2), pages 209-87, October.
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    7. Crain, W Mark & Deaton, Thomas H & Tollison, Robert D, 1977. "Legislators as Taxicabs: On the Value of Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 15(2), pages 298-302, April.
    8. David N. Laband & John P. Sophocleus, 1992. "An Estimate of Resource Expenditures on Transfer Activity in the United States," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 959-983.
    9. Crain, W Mark & Leavens, Donald R & Tollison, Robert D, 1986. "Final Voting in Legislatures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 833-41, September.
    10. Lott, John R, Jr, 1990. "An Explanation for Public Provision of Schooling: The Importance of Indoctrination," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 199-231, April.
    11. Gary S. Becker, 1984. "Public Policies, Pressure Groups, and Dead Weight Costs," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 35, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
    12. Stratmann, Thomas, 1992. "Are Contributions Rational? Untangling Strategies of Political Action Committees," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(3), pages 647-64, June.
    13. Lott, John R, Jr & Bronars, Stephen G, 1993. "Time Series Evidence on Shirking in the U.S. House of Representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(1-2), pages 125-49, June.
    14. Snyder, James M, Jr, 1992. "Long-Term Investing in Politicians; or, Give Early, Give Often," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 15-43, April.
    15. Burton Abrams & Russell Settle, 1976. "A modest proposal for election reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 28(1), pages 37-53, December.
    16. Lott, John R, Jr, 1987. "Licensing and Nontransferable Rents," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(3), pages 453-55, June.
    17. Case, Anne C. & Rosen, Harvey S. & Hines, James Jr., 1993. "Budget spillovers and fiscal policy interdependence : Evidence from the states," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 285-307, October.
    18. Crain, W Mark & Oakley, Lisa K, 1995. "The Politics of Infrastructure," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 38(1), pages 1-17, April.
    19. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
    20. Lott, John R, Jr, 1997. "Does Political Reform Increase Wealth?: Or, Why the Difference between the Chicago and Virginia Schools Is Really an Elasticity Question," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 91(3-4), pages 219-27, June.
    21. Crain, W Mark & Tollison, Robert D, 1977. "Attenuated Property Rights and the Market for Governors," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(1), pages 205-11, April.
    22. Dunlevy, James A & Yeager, James H, Jr, 1979. "Legislators as Taxicabs: A Reconsideration," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 17(2), pages 303-06, April.
    23. David P. Baron, 1989. "Service-Induced Campaign Contributions and the Electoral Equilibrium," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 104(1), pages 45-72.
    24. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
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