Local Favoritism in At-large Proportional Representation Systems
Jon H. Fiva, Askill H. Halse
CESifo Working Paper No. 5534. Category 1: Public Finance. September 2015.
Pork barrel spending is typically attributed to the strategic behavior of political elites hoping to be electorally rewarded by voters residing in their districts. Such behavior is expected to depend on the incentives imposed by the electoral system. We estimate the causal effect of local representation in a closed list proportional representation system where individual candidates have no clear electoral incentive to favor their hometown. Using data from Norwegian regional governments, we still find a hometown bias. We document that municipalities with a representative on the regional council from the same party as the governor tend to obtain more funding for local investments. In an extension we show that citizens also tend to vote more often for parties with a governor candidate from their own hometown, consistent with an expectation of particularistic benefits. Both effects are driven by municipalities with below median population size.