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A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers

Author

Listed:
  • Daniel Diermeier

    () (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University)

  • Michael Keane

    () (Department of Economics, Yale University)

  • Antonio Merlo

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsyvlania)

Abstract

Theories in political economy depend critically on assumptions about motivations of politicians. Our analysis starts from the premise that politicians, like other economic agents, are rational individuals who make career decisions by comparing the expected returns of alternative choices. The main goal of the paper is to quantify the returns to a career in the United States Congress. To achieve this goal we specify a dynamic model of career decisions of a member of Congress and we estimate this model using a newly collected data set. Given estimates of the structural model, we assess reelection probabilities for members of Congress, estimate the effect of congressional experience on private and public sector wages, and quantify the value of a congressional seat. Moreover, we use the estimated model to assess how an increase in the congressional wage or the imposition of term limits would affect the career decisions of politicians and the returns to a career in Congress.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2002. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," PIER Working Paper Archive 04-037, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Sep 2004.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:04-037
    as

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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Rust, John, 1987. "Optimal Replacement of GMC Bus Engines: An Empirical Model of Harold Zurcher," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(5), pages 999-1033, September.
    2. Daniel Diermeier & Michael Keane & Antonio Merlo, 2005. "A Political Economy Model of Congressional Careers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 347-373, March.
    3. Timothy Besley & Anne Case, 1995. "Does Electoral Accountability Affect Economic Policy Choices? Evidence from Gubernatorial Term Limits," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(3), pages 769-798.
    4. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    5. Heckman, James J & Honore, Bo E, 1990. "The Empirical Content of the Roy Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(5), pages 1121-1149, September.
    6. Aragones, Enriqueta & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "Mixed Equilibrium in a Downsian Model with a Favored Candidate," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 131-161, March.
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    9. Keane, Michael P & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1997. "The Career Decisions of Young Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(3), pages 473-522, June.
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    12. Jacob Mincer, 1958. "Investment in Human Capital and Personal Income Distribution," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 66, pages 281-281.
    13. Wittman, Donald, 1977. "Candidates with policy preferences: A dynamic model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 180-189, February.
    14. Tim Groseclose & Jeffrey Milyo, 1999. "Buying the Bums Out: What's the Dollar Value of a Seat in Congress?," Discussion Papers Series, Department of Economics, Tufts University 9923, Department of Economics, Tufts University.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Political careers; politicians; elections; term limits;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • J44 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Professional Labor Markets and Occupations
    • J45 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Particular Labor Markets - - - Public Sector Labor Markets

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