DYNASTIC POLITICAL PRIVILEGE AND ELECTORAL ACCOUNTABILITY: THE CASE OF U.S. GOVERNORS, 1950–2005

Authors

  • GEORGE R. CROWLEY,

    1. Crowley: Assistant Professor of Economics, Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy, Troy University, Troy, AL 36082. Phone 334-808-6486, Fax 334-670-3636, E-mail grcrowley@troy.edu
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  • WILLIAM S. REECE

    1. Reece: Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 20506. Phone 304-293-4039, Fax 304-293-5652, E-mail William.reece@mail.wvu.edu
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    • The authors would like to thank Santiago Pinto, Russell Sobel, and two anonymous referees for helpful comments and West Virginia University's Ken and Randy Kendrick Fund for Free Market Research for support for data gathering. The authors alone are responsible for the contents of the paper. Upon request, the authors will provide the family relationship data, as well as all other data and a complete list of sources.


Abstract

This paper examines the impact of dynastic political privilege on the behavior of incumbents. Incumbents have opportunities to serve themselves at the expense of voters, but society can design political institutions to mitigate these principal-agent problems. Dynastic political privilege may be one such mechanism. We argue that the possibility that opportunistic behavior in office may damage family members' political prospects disciplines incumbents. We test this hypothesis using data for 1950–2005 on U.S. governors, including a new data set on the family relationships of politicians, and find that dynastic political privilege increases incumbent accountability. (JEL H71, H10)

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