Congressional distributive politics and state economic performance*

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Abstract

States that were represented by very senior Democratic congressmen grew more quickly during the 1953–1990 period than states that were represented by more junior congressional delegations. States with a large fraction of politically competitive House districts also grew faster than average. The first finding is consistent with traditional legislator-based models of distributive politics, the second with partisan models. We cannot detect any substantively important association between seniority, state political competition, and the geographic distribution of federal funds, so higher district-specific federal spending does not appear to be the source of the link between state economic growth and congressional representation.

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