Legislatures, Bureaucracies and Distributive Spending

44 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 26 Jul 2010

See all articles by Michael M. Ting

Michael M. Ting

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

This paper develops a theory of bureaucratic influence on distributive politics. While there exists a rich literature on the effects of institutions such as presidents, electoral systems, and bicameralism on government spending, the role of professional bureaucrats has yet to receive formal scrutiny. In the model, legislators bargain over the allocation of distributive benefits across districts. The legislature may either ``politicize" a program by bargaining directly over pork and bypassing bureaucratic scrutiny, or ``professionalize" it by letting a bureaucrat approve or reject project funding in each district according to an underlying quality standard. The model predicts that the legislature will professionalize when the expected program quality is high. However, politicization becomes more likely as the number of high quality projects increases, and under divided government. Further, more competent bureaucrats can encourage politicization if the expected program quality is low. Finally, politicized programs are larger than professionalized programs.

Keywords: bureaucracy, distributive politics, bargaining

JEL Classification: D72, D73

Suggested Citation

Ting, Michael M., Legislatures, Bureaucracies and Distributive Spending (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1449846

Michael M. Ting (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

MC3320
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

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