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First Quarter 2019, 
Vol. 101, No. 1
Posted 2019-01-14

Pork-Barrel Politics and Polarization

by Aaron Hedlund

This article explores how earmarks shape the ideological composition of elected officials in Congress. Relative to the classic median voter theorem, the framework developed here introduces multiple legislative districts and incorporates a desire for local earmarks in the specification of voter preferences. The main theoretical result demonstrates that competition among politicians to “bring home the bacon” substantially reduces Congressional polarization. Data from after the earmark ban of 2011 provide supporting evidence for this mechanism.

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