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Bargaining in Legislatures: An Empirical Investigation

  • Brian Knight

While the theoretical literature on non-cooperative legislative bargaining has grown voluminous, there is little empirical work attempting to test a key prediction in this literature: proposal power is valuable. This paper aims to fill this gap in the literature by investigating the role of proposal power in the allocation of transportation projects across U.S. Congressional districts in 1991 and 1998. The evidence supports the key qualitative prediction of the Baron and Ferejohn legislative bargaining model: members with proposal power, those sitting on the transportation authorization committee, secure more project spending for their districts than do other representatives. Support for the quantitative restrictions on the value of proposal power, which are more powerful than the qualitative restrictions, is more mixed. I then empirically address several alternative models of legislative behavior, including partisian models, informational roles for committees, models with appropriations committees, and theories of committees as preference outliers.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10530.

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Date of creation: May 2004
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10530
Note: PE
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  1. Steven D. Levitt & James M. Poterba, 1994. "Congressional Distributive Politics and State Economic Performance," NBER Working Papers 4721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Elhanan Helpman & Torsten Persson, 1998. "Lobbying and Legistlative Bargaining," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 1837, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
  3. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political Economics and Public Finance," CEPR Discussion Papers 2235, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John, 1999. "A Bargaining Model of Collective Choice," Working Papers 1053, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  5. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 2000. "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1121-1161, December.
  6. Brian Knight, 2002. "Endogenous Federal Grants and Crowd-out of State Government Spending: Theory and Evidence from the Federal Highway Aid Program," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 71-92, March.
  7. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 2003. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 41(1), pages 7-73, March.
  8. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
  9. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2003. "A Structural Model of Government Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 27-70, January.
  10. Morten Bennedsen & Sven E. Feldmann, 2000. "Lobbying Legislatures," CIE Discussion Papers 2000-04, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics. Centre for Industrial Economics.
  11. Chari, V V & Jones, Larry E & Marimon, Ramon, 1997. "The Economics of Split-Ticket Voting in Representative Democracies," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 957-76, December.
  12. Persson, Torsten, 1998. "Economic Policy and Special Interest Politics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 310-27, March.
  13. Levitt, Steven D & Snyder, James M, Jr, 1997. "The Impact of Federal Spending on House Election Outcomes," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 30-53, February.
  14. Weingast, Barry R & Shepsle, Kenneth A & Johnsen, Christopher, 1981. "The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(4), pages 642-64, August.
  15. repec:cup:cbooks:9780521576475 is not listed on IDEAS
  16. Brian Knight, 2003. "Parochial Interests and the Centralized Provision of Local Public Goods: Evidence from Congressional Voting on Transportation Projects," NBER Working Papers 9748, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Merlo, A., 1992. "Bargaining Over Governments in a Stochastic Environment," Working Papers 92-55, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  18. Baron David & Kalai Ehud, 1993. "The Simplest Equilibrium of a Majority-Rule Division Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 290-301, December.
  19. Leblanc, William & Snyder, James Jr. & Tripathi, Micky, 2000. "Majority-rule bargaining and the under provision of public investment goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 75(1), pages 21-47, January.
  20. McKelvey, Richard D. & Riezman, Raymond., 1990. "Seniority in Legislatures," Working Papers 725, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  21. Merlo, Antonio & Wilson, Charles A, 1995. "A Stochastic Model of Sequential Bargaining with Complete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 371-99, March.
  22. Lockwood, B., 1998. "Distributive Politics and the Benefits of Decentralization," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 513, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  23. Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel & Steven Lehrer, 2000. "Bargaining in Legislatures: An Experimental Investigation of Open versus Closed Amendment Rules," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1515, Econometric Society.
  24. Dharmapala, Dhammika, 1999. "Comparing tax expenditures and direct subsidies: the role of legislative committee structure," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 421-454, June.
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