The influence of political and demographic factors on congressional earmark awards
Poos, Jennifer E.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Earmarks (formally known as Congressionally-directed spending requests) given to lawmakers have come under increasing levels of scrutiny from the public and the media as the growth of federal spending has been a growing cause of concern. Calls for reform and even outright bans of earmarks by spending watchdog groups increased prolifically during the 111th Congress. In order to assess the political and demographic factors that influence earmark awards given to members of the House of Representatives, I employed an OLS regression on earmarks awarded during FY2010. I found that Democrats, members of party leadership and members of the Appropriations Committee were awarded the most earmarks. Additionally, Members who represented larger districts were also awarded more earmarks. These findings were replicated when analyzing the dollar value of the earmarks awarded. Contrary to my hypotheses I found that the economic need of a Member's district has no effect on the number or dollar amount of earmarks awarded. The results of my research are consistent with previous research on distributive federal spending. Political factors continue to be the key deciding factors in how earmarks are awarded and economic need does not appear to play a role. Because earmarks do not appear to be awarded based on merit, this finding could lead to a potential reform opportunity. My findings have important implications for those seeking reform of earmarks, showing that political factors have the greatest influence on how earmarks are awarded to Members.
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