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The Determinants of Interest Group Membership: Estimating Choice-Based Probability Models of Contribution Decisions

Rothenberg, Lawrence S. (1988) The Determinants of Interest Group Membership: Estimating Choice-Based Probability Models of Contribution Decisions. Social Science Working Paper, 663. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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There has been much theorizing about why individuals join interest groups. However, little has been done to test the resulting propositions because of the difficulties associated with empirically analyzing the joining decision. This deficiency is especially great when it comes to public or symbolic interest groups. In this analysis, choice-based probability methods are employed that permit the combination of data from the 1980 National Election Study with comparable information about Common Cause members and the estimation of models of the participation calculus. Besides demonstrating the applicability of the choice-based methodology, this analysis shows the primary importance of political interest and policy preferences for the membership choice. Citizens who are politically interested and have preferences that roughly match an organization's reputation find that associational membership has both greater benefits and lower costs for them than it does for others. An ability to pay is irrelevant, regardless of educational attainment and despite members' high incomes. Organizational leaders deliberately keep the costs of membership low relative to most citizens' ability to pay; this encourages potential contributors to join in order to learn about the organization.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Additional Information:Support from the National Science Foundation, grant numbers IST-8310118 and IST-8507291 and Commissariat du Plan is gratefully acknowledged. We thank the referees for their helpful and detailed comments.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Commissariat du PlanUNSPECIFIED
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:663
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170907-143516544
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81246
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:08 Sep 2017 20:30
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:40

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