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Tacit Lobbying Agreements: An Experimental Study

  • Jens Großer
  • Ernesto Reuben
  • Agnieszka Tymula

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 University of Cologne, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series in Economics with number 50.

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Date of creation: 29 Nov 2010
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Handle: RePEc:kls:series:0050
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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Urs Fischbacher & Simon Gaechter & Ernst Fehr, . "Are People Conditionally Cooperative? Evidence from a Public Goods Experiment," IEW - Working Papers 016, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  7. Urs Fischbacher, 2007. "z-Tree: Zurich toolbox for ready-made economic experiments," Experimental Economics, Springer, vol. 10(2), pages 171-178, June.
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