How Does the Incentive for Reelection Shape the Behavior of Members of Congress and How Can It Lead Them to Be Both Individually Responsive but Collectively Irresponsible?
As Madison described it in Federalist 57, regular elections assure that America’s legislators “will be compelled to anticipate the moment when their power is to cease, when their exercise of it is to be reviewed, and when they must descend to the level from which they were raised…unless a faithful discharge of their trust shall have established their title to a renewal of it.”
The local administration used these firm’s names in fake receipts to appropriate resources for public goods that were never provided. Another irregular practice, common in several municipalities, is a non-competitive procurement process (Ferejohn, J. 1986).
It is also possible— and, based on anecdotal evidence, likely—that parties and interest groups play large roles in shaping incumbent behavior in anticipation of electoral consequences. Whatever the mechanisms, our investigation reveals a striking ability for elections to influence the behavior of legislators.
Duggan, Mark, and Steven D. Levitt. 2002. “Winning Isnt Everything: Corruption in Sumo Wrestling.” American Economic Review 92 (5): 1594 605.
Engerman, Stanley L., and Kenneth L. Sokoloff. 2005. “Digging the Dirt at Public Expense: Governance in the Building of the Erie Canal and Other Public Works.” In Corruption and Reform: Lessons from Americas History. Forthcoming, edited by Edward L. Glaeser and Claudia Goldin. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Ferejohn, J. 1986. “Incumbent Performance and Electoral Control.” Public Choice 50:5–25