Endogenous Networks and Legislative Activity

91 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2016 Last revised: 14 Jun 2019

See all articles by Nathan Canen

Nathan Canen

University of Houston

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Francesco Trebbi

Vancouver School of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

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

Canen, Nathan and Jackson, Matthew O. and Trebbi, Francesco, Endogenous Networks and Legislative Activity (February 1, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2823338 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2823338

Nathan Canen

University of Houston ( email )

4800 Calhoun Road
Houston, TX 77204
United States

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
1-650-723-3544 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~jacksonm

Santa Fe Institute

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario

Francesco Trebbi (Contact Author)

Vancouver School of Economics ( email )

University of British Columbia
6000 Iona Dr.
Vancouver Canada, BC V6T 1L4

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.arts.ubc.ca/ftrebbi/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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