NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Political Dynasties

Ernesto Dal Bó, Pedro Dal Bó, Jason Snyder

NBER Working Paper No. 13122
Issued in May 2007
NBER Program(s):   POL   DAE

We study political dynasties in the United States Congress since its inception in 1789. We document historic and geographic patterns in the evolution and profile of political dynasties, study the extent of dynastic bias in legislative politics versus other occupations, and analyze the connection between political dynasties and political competition. We also study the self-perpetuation of political elites. We find that legislators who enjoy longer tenures are significantly more likely to have relatives entering Congress later. Using instrumental variables methods, we establish that this relationship is causal: a longer period in power increases the chance that a person may start (or continue) a political dynasty. Therefore, dynastic political power is self-perpetuating in that a positive exogenous shock to a person's political power has persistent effects through posterior dynastic attainment. In politics, power begets power.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w13122

Published: ERNESTO DAL BÓ & PEDRO DAL BÓ & JASON SNYDER, 2009. "Political Dynasties," Review of Economic Studies, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 76(1), pages 115-142, 01. citation courtesy of

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