The control of politicians in normal times and times of crisis: Wealth accumulation by U.S. congressmen, 1850-1880

Pablo Querubin Borrero, James M. Snyder

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    We employ a regression discontinuity design (RDD) based on close elections to estimate the rents from a seat in the U.S. Congress between 1850 and 1880. Using census data, we compare wealth accumulation among those who won or lost their first race by a small margin. We find evidence of significant returns for the first half of the 1860s, during the Civil War, but not for other periods. Those who won their first election by a narrow margin and served during the period 1861-1866 accumulated, on average, almost 40% more wealth between 1860 and 1870 (roughly $800,000 in present-day values) relative to those who ran but did not serve. We also find that wealth accumulation was particularly large for congressmen who represented states most involved in military contracting and those who served during the Civil War in committees that were responsible for most military appropriations. We hypothesize that increased opportunities from the sudden spike in government spending during the war and the decrease in control by the media might have made it easier for incumbent congressmen to collect rents.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)409-450
    Number of pages42
    JournalQuarterly Journal of Political Science
    Volume8
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2013

    Fingerprint

    rent
    civil war
    politician
    election
    Military
    census
    regression
    present
    evidence
    Values
    time

    Keywords

    • Accountability
    • Congress
    • Corruption
    • Elections
    • Political institutions

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations

    Cite this

    The control of politicians in normal times and times of crisis : Wealth accumulation by U.S. congressmen, 1850-1880. / Querubin Borrero, Pablo; Snyder, James M.

    In: Quarterly Journal of Political Science, Vol. 8, No. 4, 2013, p. 409-450.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    @article{9dbfecda1a6c4cd5a14d9b892190b172,
    title = "The control of politicians in normal times and times of crisis: Wealth accumulation by U.S. congressmen, 1850-1880",
    abstract = "We employ a regression discontinuity design (RDD) based on close elections to estimate the rents from a seat in the U.S. Congress between 1850 and 1880. Using census data, we compare wealth accumulation among those who won or lost their first race by a small margin. We find evidence of significant returns for the first half of the 1860s, during the Civil War, but not for other periods. Those who won their first election by a narrow margin and served during the period 1861-1866 accumulated, on average, almost 40{\%} more wealth between 1860 and 1870 (roughly $800,000 in present-day values) relative to those who ran but did not serve. We also find that wealth accumulation was particularly large for congressmen who represented states most involved in military contracting and those who served during the Civil War in committees that were responsible for most military appropriations. We hypothesize that increased opportunities from the sudden spike in government spending during the war and the decrease in control by the media might have made it easier for incumbent congressmen to collect rents.",
    keywords = "Accountability, Congress, Corruption, Elections, Political institutions",
    author = "{Querubin Borrero}, Pablo and Snyder, {James M.}",
    year = "2013",
    doi = "10.1561/100.00012104",
    language = "English (US)",
    volume = "8",
    pages = "409--450",
    journal = "Quarterly Journal of Political Science",
    issn = "1554-0626",
    publisher = "Now Publishers Inc",
    number = "4",

    }

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - The control of politicians in normal times and times of crisis

    T2 - Wealth accumulation by U.S. congressmen, 1850-1880

    AU - Querubin Borrero, Pablo

    AU - Snyder, James M.

    PY - 2013

    Y1 - 2013

    N2 - We employ a regression discontinuity design (RDD) based on close elections to estimate the rents from a seat in the U.S. Congress between 1850 and 1880. Using census data, we compare wealth accumulation among those who won or lost their first race by a small margin. We find evidence of significant returns for the first half of the 1860s, during the Civil War, but not for other periods. Those who won their first election by a narrow margin and served during the period 1861-1866 accumulated, on average, almost 40% more wealth between 1860 and 1870 (roughly $800,000 in present-day values) relative to those who ran but did not serve. We also find that wealth accumulation was particularly large for congressmen who represented states most involved in military contracting and those who served during the Civil War in committees that were responsible for most military appropriations. We hypothesize that increased opportunities from the sudden spike in government spending during the war and the decrease in control by the media might have made it easier for incumbent congressmen to collect rents.

    AB - We employ a regression discontinuity design (RDD) based on close elections to estimate the rents from a seat in the U.S. Congress between 1850 and 1880. Using census data, we compare wealth accumulation among those who won or lost their first race by a small margin. We find evidence of significant returns for the first half of the 1860s, during the Civil War, but not for other periods. Those who won their first election by a narrow margin and served during the period 1861-1866 accumulated, on average, almost 40% more wealth between 1860 and 1870 (roughly $800,000 in present-day values) relative to those who ran but did not serve. We also find that wealth accumulation was particularly large for congressmen who represented states most involved in military contracting and those who served during the Civil War in committees that were responsible for most military appropriations. We hypothesize that increased opportunities from the sudden spike in government spending during the war and the decrease in control by the media might have made it easier for incumbent congressmen to collect rents.

    KW - Accountability

    KW - Congress

    KW - Corruption

    KW - Elections

    KW - Political institutions

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84899033692&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84899033692&partnerID=8YFLogxK

    U2 - 10.1561/100.00012104

    DO - 10.1561/100.00012104

    M3 - Article

    VL - 8

    SP - 409

    EP - 450

    JO - Quarterly Journal of Political Science

    JF - Quarterly Journal of Political Science

    SN - 1554-0626

    IS - 4

    ER -