Three essays on distributive politics: how legislature size and partisan politics impact the distribution of government spending
This dissertation is composed of three essays that investigate how legislature size, political alignment, and political polarization impact the distribution of government expenditures at different levels of government. The first essay focuses on political alignment and polarization while the last two essays focus on legislature size at the cross-country and US state level, respectively. In the first essay, we find evidence that during times when political polarization in the US Senate is relatively low, states with more senators in the majority receive a larger than average share of federal grant spending per capita. We also find that although states with more senators in the majority receive a larger than average share of federal grant spending per capita when both chambers of the US Congress are aligned, that this amount is smaller than what these states receive when control of Congress is divided. Lastly, we verify that states with the entire Senate delegation in the majority are driving these results. In the second essay, we find significant evidence that countries with bicameral legislatures experience larger levels of central government expenditures as a percentage of GDP when the upper chamber is larger than average. Conversely, we were not able to show any consistent relationship between unicameral legislature size and central government expenditures as a percentage of GDP or between lower chamber size and central government expenditures as a percentage of GDP. In the final essay, we examine the role legislature size has in determining the growth in state-level per capita spending. Overall, we were unable to verify a relationship between lower chamber size, upper chamber size, or the ratio of the lower-to-upper chamber size and the change in total spending per capita. We do find a positive relationship between lower chamber size and the change in per capita welfare spending.