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Tacit Lobbying Agreements: An Experimental Study

  • Großer, Jens

    ()

    (Florida State University)

  • Reuben, Ernesto

    ()

    (Columbia University)

  • Tymula, Agnieszka

    ()

    (New York University)

We experimentally study the common wisdom that money buys political influence. In the game, one lobbyist has the opportunity to influence redistributive tax policies in her favor by transferring money to two competing candidates. The success of the lobbying investment depends on whether or not the candidates are willing to respond and able to collude on low-tax policies that do not harm their relative chances in the elections. In the experiment, we find that lobbying is never successful when the lobbyist and candidates interact just once. By contrast, it yields substantially lower redistribution in about 40% of societies with finitely-repeated encounters. However, lobbying investments are not always profitable, and profit-sharing between the lobbyist and candidates depends on prominent equity norms. Our experimental results shed new light on the complex process of buying political influence in everyday politics and help explain why only relatively few corporate firms do actually lobby.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 5332.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2010
Date of revision:
Publication status: published in: American Journal of Political Science, 2013, 57 (3), 582–597
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5332
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  1. John M. de Figueiredo & Brian S. Silverman, 2002. "Academic Earmarks and the Returns to Lobbying," NBER Working Papers 9064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Hillman, Arye L & Ursprung, Heinrich W, 1988. "Domestic Politics, Foreign Interests, and International Trade Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 719-45, September.
  3. Fischbacher, Urs & Gachter, Simon & Fehr, Ernst, 2001. "Are people conditionally cooperative? Evidence from a public goods experiment," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 397-404, June.
  4. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
  5. Rabe-Hesketh, Sophia & Skrondal, Anders & Pickles, Andrew, 2005. "Maximum likelihood estimation of limited and discrete dependent variable models with nested random effects," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 128(2), pages 301-323, October.
  6. James Konow, 2003. "Which Is the Fairest One of All? A Positive Analysis of Justice Theories," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(4), pages 1188-1239, December.
  7. Milyo Jeffrey & Primo David & Groseclose Timothy, 2000. "Corporate PAC Campaign Contributions in Perspective," Business and Politics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-15, April.
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