The Birth of Pork: Local Appropriations in America's First Century

Gordon, Sanford C. and Simpson, Hannah (2018) The Birth of Pork: Local Appropriations in America's First Century. American Political Science Review, 112 (3). pp. 564-579.

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After describing a newly assembled dataset consisting of all local appropriations made by the U.S. Congress between 1789 and 1882, we test a number of competing accounts of the politics surrounding them before offering a more nuanced, historically contingent view of the emergence of the pork barrel. First, we demonstrate that the pattern of appropriations is inconsistent with credit-claiming motivations, even accounting for the frequent rotation in office common during the period. Second, it was rare that over fifty percent of districts directly benefited from these appropriations until the 1870s, even aggregating by congressional session. Moreover, support for these appropriations was not reducible to geographic proximity, but did, until the end of Reconstruction, map cleanly onto the partisan/ideological structure of Congress. Finally, we show how the growth of recurrent expenditures and the emergence of a solid Democratic South eventually produced the universalistic coalitions commonly associated with pork-barrel spending.

Item Type: Article
Language: English
Date: August 2018
Refereed: Yes
JEL codes: D72 - Economic Models of Political Processes - Rent-Seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
N41 - U.S.; Canada - Pre-1913
Divisions: TSE-R (Toulouse)
Site: UT1
Date Deposited: 22 May 2018 13:15
Last Modified: 15 May 2019 08:19

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