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Distributive Politics and Electoral Incentives: Evidence from Seven US State Legislatures

  • Aidt, T.S.
  • Shvets, J.

We study the effect of electoral incentives on the allocation of public services across legislative districts. We develop a model in which elections encourage individual legislators to cater to parochial interests and thus aggravate the common pool problem. Using unique data from seven US states, we study how the amount of funding that a legislator channels to his district changes when he faces a term limit. We find that legislators bring less state funds to their district when they cannot run for re-election. Consistent with the Law of 1/N, this tendency is less pronounced in states with many legislative districts.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge in its series Cambridge Working Papers in Economics with number 1130.

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Date of creation: 24 Mar 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1130
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  1. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2011. "Electoral Accountability and Corruption: Evidence from the Audits of Local Governments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(4), pages 1274-1311, June.
  2. Toke Aidt & Julia Shvets, 2011. "Distributive Politics and Electoral Incentives: Evidence from Seven US State Legislatures," CESifo Working Paper Series 3405, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. John A., List & Daniel, Sturm, 2006. "How Elections Matter: Theory and Evidence from Environmental Policy," Discussion Papers in Economics 768, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Eric Maskin & Jean Tirole, 2004. "The Politician and the Judge: Accountability in Government," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 1034-1054, September.
  5. Alesina, Alberto & Spear, Stephen, 1988. "An Overlapping Generations Model of Electoral Competition," Scholarly Articles 4553015, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Marco Battaglini & Stephen Coate, 2007. "Inefficiency in Legislative Policymaking: A Dynamic Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 118-149, March.
  7. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
  8. Chiara Dalle Nogare & Roberto Ricciuti, 2008. "Term Limits: Do they really Affect Fiscal Policy Choices?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2199, CESifo Group Munich.
  9. W. Robert Reed, 1994. "A Retrospective Voting Model With Heterogeneous Politicians," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 39-58, 03.
  10. Pettersson-Lidbom, Per, 2012. "Does the size of the legislature affect the size of government? Evidence from two natural experiments," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 269-278.
  11. Leah Brooks & Justin Phillips & Maxim Sinitsyn, 2011. "The Cabals of a Few or the Confusion of a Multitude: The Institutional Trade-Off between Representation and Governance," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-24, February.
  12. Dhami, Sanjit, 2003. "The political economy of redistribution under asymmetric information," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2069-2103, September.
  13. Brian Knight, 2005. "Estimating the Value of Proposal Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1639-1652, December.
  14. Bernhardt, Dan & Dubey, Sangita & Hughson, Eric, 2004. "Term limits and pork barrel politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(12), pages 2383-2422, December.
  15. Gilligan, Thomas W & Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Deviations from Constituent Interests: The Role of Legislative Structure and Political Parties in the States," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(3), pages 383-401, July.
  16. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
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