Giving the People What They Want? The Distribution of Earmarks in the U.S. House of Representatives

34 Pages Posted: 27 Apr 2008

See all articles by Jeffrey Lazarus

Jeffrey Lazarus

Georgia State University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: April 18, 2008

Abstract

Common wisdom holds that members of Congress distribute earmarks on a purely political basis. Likewise, Congressional scholars hold that political factors are preeminent in determining where earmarks go, even more than for other types of pork barrel spending. Using earmarks appearing in the fiscal 2008 Appropriations bills, I test for both political and demand-side determinants of the distribution of earmarks. I find that both types of factors are significantly related to the number of earmarks which a House member receives. This result leads us to reject the common wisdom account that local demand plays no role in the distribution of earmarks, and calls into question whether earmarks should be treated as an outlier within the universe of spending allocation mechanisms.

Keywords: Congress, Earmarks, Distributive Politics, Pork Barrel

Suggested Citation

Lazarus, Jeffrey, Giving the People What They Want? The Distribution of Earmarks in the U.S. House of Representatives (April 18, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1125288 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1125288

Jeffrey Lazarus (Contact Author)

Georgia State University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30302
United States

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