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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
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10530
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  1. 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.
  2. Levitt, Steven D & Poterba, James M, 1999. " Congressional Distributive Politics and State Economic Performance," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 185-216, April.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 661465000000000387, David K. Levine.
  6. Besley, Timothy J. & Case, Anne, 2002. "Political Institutions and Policy Choices: Evidence from the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 3498, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Merlo, Antonio, 1997. "Bargaining over Governments in a Stochastic Environment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 101-31, February.
  12. McKelvey, Richard D. & Riezman, Raymond., 1990. "Seniority in Legislatures," Working Papers 725, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  13. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 1999. "Political Economics and Public Finance," NBER Working Papers 7097, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Helpman Elhanan & Persson Torsten, 2001. "Lobbying and Legislative Bargaining," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-33, November.
  15. 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.
  16. Lockwood, B., 1998. "Distributive Politics and the Benefits of Decentralization," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 513, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  17. Bennedsen, Morten & Feldmann, Sven E., 2000. "Lobbying Legislatures," Working Papers 07-2000, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Economics.
  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. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2003. "A Structural Model of Government Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 27-70, January.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. Persson, Torsten, 1998. "Economic Policy and Special Interest Politics," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 108(447), pages 310-27, March.
  23. 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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