ICES Experimental Economics Brown Bag Lecture

A Model of Reputation-Motivated Vote Trading and Its Implications

Friday, April 12, 2024 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM EDT
Vernon Smith Hall (formerly Metropolitan Building), Room 5075

The Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science (ICES) presents an ICES Brown Bag Lecture featuring:

Nicholas Brown

George Mason University

A Model of Reputation-Motivated Vote Trading and Its Implications





Using vote-trading (logrolling) and distributing benefits in a bill (pork) to get a bill passed in legislatures is generally regarded as shady or inefficient. In fact, the terms logrolling and pork are epithets. We investigate how the prevalence of logrolling and pork affect the efficiency of bills that are passed in legislatures. We present a formal model that focuses on the passage of a single bill. A single, motivated legislator gets the ability to dilute the bill with pork, decreasing how much his benefit from the bill, while increasing how much other legislators' benefits from it. Legislators are also motivated by reputation acquisitions, and will  vote against their prime interest (valuation) in expectation of future gains from reputation (logrolling). We find that pork and logrolling most improve legislative welfare measures when incentives for reputation acquisition are relatively weak, the cost of pork is relatively low, legislatures are relatively small, and preferences over policies are polarized. We also find that in legislative pass-rates, that is the percentage of policies which pass when proposed, increase under all circumstances with logrolling and pork incentives, but do so most under large legislatures with polarized valuations. This model and its implications could help us understand the nature of voting on policies across different legislative structures and under the increasingly-polarized legislatures of the U.S. and other Western democracies.


For more information about the Brown Bag Lectures, please visit the Brown Bag Schedule homepage.

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