IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Pork for Policy: Executive and Legislative Exchange in Brazil


  • Lee J. Alston
  • Bernardo Mueller


The Brazilian Constitution of 1988 gave relatively strong powers to the President. We model and test Executive-Legislative relations in Brazil and demonstrate that Presidents have used pork as a political currency to exchange for votes on policy reforms. In particular Presidents Cardoso and Lula have used pork to exchange for amendments to the Constitution. Without policy reforms Brazil would have had greater difficulty meeting their debt obligations. The logic for the exchange of pork for policy reform is that Presidents typically have greater electoral incentives than members of Congress to care about economic growth, economic opportunity, income equality and price stabilization. Members of Congress generally care more about redistributing gains to their constituents. Given the differences in preferences and the relative powers of each, the Legislative and Executive benefit by exploiting the gains from trade.

Suggested Citation

  • Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2005. "Pork for Policy: Executive and Legislative Exchange in Brazil," NBER Working Papers 11273, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11273
    Note: IFM POL

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Torsten Persson & Gérard Roland & Guido Tabellini, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202.
    2. Octavio Amorim Neto, 1994. "Formação de gabinetes presidenciais no Brasil: coalizão versus cooptação," Nova Economia, Economics Department, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil), vol. 4(1), pages 9-34, November.
    3. Pablo T. Spiller, 2003. "The Institutional Foundations of Public Policy: A Transactions Approach with Application to Argentina," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(2), pages 281-306, October.
    4. Weingast, Barry R & Marshall, William J, 1988. "The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 132-163, February.
    5. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics,in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
    6. Spiller, Pablo T, 1996. "Institutions and Commitment," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 421-452.
    7. Kenneth Shepsle & Barry Weingast, 1981. "Structure-induced equilibrium and legislative choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 37(3), pages 503-519, January.
    8. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    9. James M. Snyder, 1991. "On Buying Legislatures," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 93-109, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Carlos Renato De Melo Castro & Michael Christian Lehmann, 2016. "Gasto Público E Organização Legislativa: Evidência Da Lei 1/N Para O Brasil," Anais do XLII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 42ndd Brazilian Economics Meeting] 058, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    2. Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2007. "Legal Reserve Requirements in Brazilian Forests: Path Dependent Evolution of De Facto Legislation," Economia, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics], vol. 8(4), pages 25-53.
    3. Mueller, Bernardo & Mueller, Charles C., 2012. "The Impact Of The 2007?08 Food Price Crisis In A Major Commodity Exporter : Food Prices, Inflation, And Inclusion In Brazil," WIDER Working Paper Series 095, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    4. Bernardo Mueller, 2011. "The Fiscal Imperativeand the Role of Public Prosecutors in Brazilian Environmental Policy," Anais do XXXVII Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 37th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 184, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    5. Bernardo Mueller & Lee Alston & Carlos Pereira & Marcus Melo, 2008. "The Choices Governors Make: The Roles of Checks and Balances and Political Competition," Anais do XXXVI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 36th Brazilian Economics Meeting] 200807181549410, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pósgraduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    6. Uhr, Daniel & Ziero Uhr, Júlia & Mueller, Bernardo, 2012. "Como as ONGs ambientais influenciam a política ambiental brasileira?," Revista Brasileira de Economia - RBE, FGV/EPGE - Escola Brasileira de Economia e Finanças, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil), vol. 66(1), March.
    7. Pereira, Carlos & Orellana, Salomon, 2010. "Hybrid political institutions and governability: the budgetary process in Brazil," Textos para discussão 213, FGV/EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    8. Libman, Alexander Mikhailovich, 2009. "Эндогенные Границы И Распределение Власти В Федерациях И Международных Сообществах
      ," MPRA Paper 16473, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. repec:fgv:epgrbe:v:66:n:1:a:4 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller & Marcus André Melo & Carlos Pereira, 2010. "The Political Economy of Productivity in Brazil," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 1123, Inter-American Development Bank.
    11. Lee J. Alston & Marcus André Melo & Bernardo Mueller & Carlos Pereira, 2016. "A Conceptual Framework for Understanding Critical Transitions," NBER Working Papers 22144, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Marcus Melo & Carlos Pereira & Saulo Souza, 2010. "The Political Economy of Fiscal Reform in Brazil: The Rationale for the Suboptimal Equilibrum," Research Department Publications 4655, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
    13. repec:gig:joupla:v:1:y:2009:i:3:p:57-79 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:gig:joupla:v:3:y:2011:i:2:p:141-172 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. repec:unu:wpaper:wp2012-95 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Alston, Lee J. & Gallo, Andrés A., 2010. "Electoral fraud, the rise of Peron and demise of checks and balances in Argentina," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 179-197, April.
    17. Lee J. Alston & Bernardo Mueller, 2011. "Brazilian Development: This Time for Real?," CESifo Forum, Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 12(1), pages 37-46, March.
    18. repec:gig:joupla:v:7:y:2015:i:1:p:143-161 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. Pereira, Carlos & Power, Timothy J. & Raile, Eric D., 2010. "The executive toolbox: building legislative support in a multiparty presidential regime," Textos para discussão 235, FGV/EESP - Escola de Economia de São Paulo, Getulio Vargas Foundation (Brazil).
    20. Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak & Andrew Sunil Rajkumar & Maureen Cropper, 2011. "The Political Economy of Health Services Provision in Brazil," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages 723-751.
    21. Pablo T. Spiller & Sanny Liao, 2006. "Buy, Lobby or Sue: Interest Groups' Participation in Policy Making - A Selective Survey," NBER Working Papers 12209, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11273. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.