Congressional Distributive Politics and State Economic Performance

50 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2000 Last revised: 12 Apr 2008

See all articles by Steven D. Levitt

Steven D. Levitt

University of Chicago; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); American Bar Foundation

James M. Poterba

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Date Written: April 1994

Abstract

This paper tests several theories of the effects of congressional representation on state economic growth. States that were represented by very senior Democratic congressmen grew more quickly during the 1953-1990 period than states that were represented by more junior congressional delegations. We find some, but weaker, evidence that states with a high fraction of their delegation on particularly influential committees also exhibit above-average growth. We also test partisan models of distributive politics by studying the relationship between a state's degree of political competition and its growth rate. Our findings support both nonpartisan and partisan models of congressional distributive politics. In spite of our findings with respect to economic growth, we can not detect any substantively important association between congressional delegation seniority, the degree of state political competition, and the geographic distribution of federal funds. The source of the growth relationships we identify therefore remains an open question.

Suggested Citation

Levitt, Steven D. and Poterba, James M., Congressional Distributive Politics and State Economic Performance (April 1994). NBER Working Paper No. w4721. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=226989

Steven D. Levitt (Contact Author)

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James M. Poterba

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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