Friends in High Places

57 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2010

See all articles by Lauren Cohen

Lauren Cohen

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Christopher J. Malloy

Harvard Business School; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: October 2010

Abstract

We demonstrate that personal connections amongst politicians have a significant impact on the voting behavior of U.S. politicians. Networks based on alumni connections between politicians, as well as common seat locations on the chamber floor, are consistent predictors of voting behavior. For the former, we estimate sharp measures that control for common characteristics of the network, as well as heterogeneous impacts of a common network characteristic across votes. For common seat locations, we identify a set of plausibly exogenously assigned seats (Freshman Senators), and find a strong impact of seat location networks on voting. We find that the effect of alumni networks is close to 60% of the size of the effect of state-level considerations. The network effects we identify are stronger for more tightly linked networks, and at times when votes are most valuable.

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Lauren and Malloy, Christopher J., Friends in High Places (October 2010). NBER Working Paper No. w16437. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1689369

Lauren Cohen (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Rock Center 321
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Boston, MA 02163
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HOME PAGE: http://www.people.hbs.edu/lcohen

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Christopher J. Malloy

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Baker Library 277
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-4383 (Phone)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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