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Congressional Distributive Politics and State Economic Performance

  • Steven D. Levitt
  • James M. Poterba

This paper tests several theories of the effects of congressional representation on state economic growth. States that were represented by very senior Democratic congressmen grew more quickly during the 1953-1990 period than states that were represented by more junior congressional delegations. We find some, but weaker, evidence that states with a high fraction of their delegation on particularly influential committees also exhibit above-average growth. We also test partisan models of distributive politics by studying the relationship between a state's degree of political competition and its growth rate. Our findings support both nonpartisan and partisan models of congressional distributive politics. In spite of our findings with respect to economic growth, we can not detect any substantively important association between congressional delegation seniority, the degree of state political competition, and the geographic distribution of federal funds. The source of the growth relationships we identify therefore remains an open question.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w4721.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 4721.

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Date of creation: Apr 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as Public Choice, Vol. 99 (April 1999): 185-216.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4721
Note: PE
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  1. Lisa Kiel & Richard McKenzie, 1983. "The impact of tenure on the flow of federal benefits to SMSA's," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(2), pages 285-293, January.
  2. Sam Peltzman, 1988. "How Efficient Is the Voting Market?," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 53, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
  3. 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 132-63, February.
  4. Wright, Gavin, 1974. "The Political Economy of New Deal Spending: An Econometric Analysis," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 56(1), pages 30-38, February.
  5. Chressanthis, George A & Shaffer, Stephen D, 1993. " Economic Performance and U.S. Senate Elections: A Comment," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 75(3), pages 263-77, March.
  6. James M. Snyder, 1994. "Safe Seats, Marginal Seats, And Party Platforms: The Logic Of Platform Differentiation," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 6(3), pages 201-213, November.
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