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The Right Type of Legislator: a Theory of Taxation and Representation

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  • Andrea Mattozzi
  • E. Snowberg

Abstract

Theories of taxation conclude that legislators' ability to target redistribution to their districts’ results in higher government spending and taxation. Yet, despite the fact that securing “pork” is an important part of a legislator's job in the U.S., but not in European countries, the U.S. has lower taxes. Our analysis adds a simple assumption to standard models to reconcile them with this fact. Our assumption - that those who are successful in the private sector will also tend to be successful in negotiating transfers for their district - allows our theory to match stylized facts about class representation in legislatures. The model can then be used to examine policies aimed at increasing descriptive representation in legislatures. We find that many of these policies have no, or negative, effects on descriptive representation, including: increasing the number of representatives, allowing parties to choose candidates, or giving parties some ability to discipline legislator's votes and screen candidates. On the other hand, two policies are found to be particularly effective for increasing descriptive representation: proportional representation and limiting competition between legislators.
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Suggested Citation

  • Andrea Mattozzi & E. Snowberg, 2017. "The Right Type of Legislator: a Theory of Taxation and Representation," Levine's Bibliography 786969000000001656, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:786969000000001656
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    4. Gianmarco Daniele & Amedeo Piolatto & Willem Sas, 2020. "Does the Winner Take It All? Redistributive Policies and Political Extremism," Working Papers 1157, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    5. Mizuno, Nobuhiro & Okazawa, Ryosuke, 2018. "Why do voters elect less qualified candidates?," MPRA Paper 89215, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • H23 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Externalities; Redistributive Effects; Environmental Taxes and Subsidies

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