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A rational choice perspective on congressional norms

Weingast, Barry R. (1979) A rational choice perspective on congressional norms. American Journal of Political Science, 23 (2). pp. 245-262. ISSN 0092-5853. doi:10.2307/2111001.

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This paper begins with a contrast between the conclusions of theoretical and empirical work on distributive policy-making. The former predicts that a minimum winning coalition will make public policy; the latter reveals universal or unanimous coalitions. This paper presents a model whose predictions conform to empirical findings. It first defines a "Distributive Legislative Game" and then shows that the set of minimum winning coalitions is the core of the game. To explain the observation of unanimous coalitions, it is shown that another game, the "Universalism Legislative Game," which allows only the coalition of the whole, dominates the previous game in the sense that the ex ante expected benefits are higher for all legislators. The observed "norm" of universal coalitions in Congress is thus interpreted as legislators choosing the rules of the game to maximize their expected benefits.

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Additional Information:© 1979 by the University of Texas. Manuscript submitted 10 February 1977; Final manuscript received 12 June 1978. The author is grateful to Robert Bates, John Ferejohn, Morris Fiorina, Bengt Holmstrom, Roger Noll, Robert Parks, James Quirk, Trout Rader, and Kenneth Shepsle for helpful comments at various stages of this paper. Formerly SSWP 142
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20171127-133424383
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:83446
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:27 Nov 2017 21:54
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 19:58

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