A Model of Party Discipline in Congress
University of Mannheim
April 11, 2011
This paper studies the impacts of party discipline on allocation of scarce federal resources among national districts. In particular, I model the distribution of government spending within a two-party legislature as an asymmetric contest game between congress members, in which the majority party has a relative advantage in directing pork barrel into its partisan districts. The party leaders can enforce discipline in their corresponding parties to make their congress members support the party line, i.e., maximize the party's total share of pork barrel (rather than follow interests of their home districts). I show that if the relative advantage of the majority party in allocating government spending is not very high, then in equilibrium, both leaders choose to impose discipline in their corresponding parties. Under party discipline, a per district pork-barrel share of the majority party decreases, while that of the minority party increases, relative to the allocation with no party discipline. My results therefore indicate that party discipline favors the minority party and leads to less biased distribution of government spending among national districts.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: Party discipline, Majority party, Minority party, Pork-barrel spending
JEL Classification: D72, H41working papers series
Date posted: April 22, 2011 ; Last revised: November 14, 2011
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