Endogenous Networks and Legislative Activity
91 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2016 Last revised: 14 Jun 2019
Date Written: February 1, 2019
We present and structurally estimate a model of endogenous network formation and legislative activity of politicians, with the goal of assessing the importance of social complementarities in the governmental process. Our model allows for partisan bias and homophily in the formation of networks, which affect legislators' strategic choices. Employing data on social and legislative efforts of members of the 105th-110th U.S. Congresses (1997-2009), we find quantitatively large network effects in the form of complementarities between the efforts of politicians, both within and across parties. Although partisanship and preference differences between parties are significant drivers of socializing in Congress, our empirical evidence on social interactions paints a less polarized picture of the informal connections of members of Congress than typically emerges from looking at congressional votes alone. Finally, we show that our formulation is useful for developing relevant counterfactuals, including the effect of political polarization on legislative activity (and how this effect can be reversed) and the impacts of networks in the congressional emergency response to the 2008-09 financial crisis.
Keywords: Social Networks; U.S. Congress; Partisanship; Endogenous Networks
JEL Classification: D72, P48, H7
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation