NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Bargaining in Legislatures: An Empirical Investigation

Brian Knight

NBER Working Paper No. 10530
Issued in May 2004
NBER Program(s):   PE

While the theoretical literature on non-cooperative legislative bargaining has grown voluminous, there is little empirical work attempting to test a key prediction in this literature: proposal power is valuable. This paper aims to fill this gap in the literature by investigating the role of proposal power in the allocation of transportation projects across U.S. Congressional districts in 1991 and 1998. The evidence supports the key qualitative prediction of the Baron and Ferejohn legislative bargaining model: members with proposal power, those sitting on the transportation authorization committee, secure more project spending for their districts than do other representatives. Support for the quantitative restrictions on the value of proposal power, which are more powerful than the qualitative restrictions, is more mixed. I then empirically address several alternative models of legislative behavior, including partisian models, informational roles for committees, models with appropriations committees, and theories of committees as preference outliers.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w10530

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