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The Rise of New Corruption: British MPs during the Railway Mania of 1845

Listed author(s):
  • Esteves, Rui
  • Geisler Mesevage, Gabriel
Registered author(s):

    In the 1840s, speculation in railway shares in the UK prompted the creation of hundreds of new railway companies. Each company needed to petition Parliament for the approval of new railway routes. In this paper, we investigate whether parliamentary regulation of the new railway network was distorted by politicians' vested interests. Drawing on methods from peer-effects analysis, we identify situations where MPs could have traded votes with specific colleagues in order to get their preferred projects approved (logrolling). We confirm that logrolling was both prevalent and significant. Our estimates suggest that at least a quarter of approved lines received their bills because of logrolling. Companies approved through logrolling also underperformed in the stock market during the railway bubble and after its final crash in 1847.

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    Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 12182.

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    Date of creation: Jul 2017
    Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:12182
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