The right type of legislator : a theory of taxation and representation
Title: The right type of legislator : a theory of taxation and representation
Series/Number: EUI ECO; 2015/03
Theories of taxation conclude that legislators' ability to target redistribution to their districts’ results in higher government spending and taxation. Yet, despite the fact that securing “pork” is an important part of a legislator's job in the U.S., but not in European countries, the U.S. has lower taxes. Our analysis adds a simple assumption to standard models to reconcile them with this fact. Our assumption - that those who are successful in the private sector will also tend to be successful in negotiating transfers for their district - allows our theory to match stylized facts about class representation in legislatures. The model can then be used to examine policies aimed at increasing descriptive representation in legislatures. We find that many of these policies have no, or negative, effects on descriptive representation, including: increasing the number of representatives, allowing parties to choose candidates, or giving parties some ability to discipline legislator's votes and screen candidates. On the other hand, two policies are found to be particularly effective for increasing descriptive representation: proportional representation and limiting competition between legislators.
Subject: Political economy; Citizen candidates; Taxation; Redistribution; Representation; D02; D63; D72; H10; H23
Type of Access: openAccess