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

  • Toke Aidt
  • Julia Shvets

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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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2011/wp-cesifo-2011-03/cesifo1_wp3405.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3405.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3405
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  1. Alesina, Alberto & Spear, Stephen E., 1988. "An overlapping generations model of electoral competition," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 359-379, December.
  2. Sanjit Dhami, 2001. "The Political Economy of Redistribution Under Asymmetric Information," Game Theory and Information 0108001, EconWPA.
  3. List, John & Sturm, Daniel M, 2004. "How Elections Matter: Theory and Evidence from Environmental Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 4489, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. W. Robert Reed, 1994. "A Retrospective Voting Model With Heterogeneous Politicians," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(1), pages 39-58, 03.
  5. 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.
  6. Toke S. Aidt & Julia Shvets, 2012. "Distributive Politics and Electoral Incentives: Evidence from Seven US State Legislatures," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 4(3), pages 1-29, August.
  7. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2004. "Does the Size of the Legislature Affect the Size of Government? Evidence from Two Natural Experiments," Discussion Papers 350, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
  8. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-98, August.
  9. Chiara Dalle Nogare & Roberto Ricciuti, 2008. "Term Limits: Do they really Affect Fiscal Policy Choices?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2199, CESifo Group Munich.
  10. 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.
  11. Battaglini, Marco & Coate, Stephen, 2005. "Inefficiency in Legislative Policy-Making: A Dynamic Analysis," Papers 08-09-2005, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  12. Reza Baqir, 2002. "Districting and Government Overspending," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(6), pages 1318-1354, December.
  13. Brian Knight, 2005. "Estimating the Value of Proposal Power," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1639-1652, December.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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