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Working Paper

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pork barrel spending, pork, earmarks, government spending


Congressional earmarks have been the subject of significant political debate in recent years. Also known as “pork barrel spending,” earmarks are budgetary requests made by a single legislator that typically circumvent the traditional competitive bidding process designed to ensure the efficient use of public dollars. Utilizing annual state-level estimates of pork barrel spending, we briefly examine the factors influencing states’ receipt of earmarked funds from Congress. Results indicate that on average smaller states receive the largest amount of per capita earmarked funding, most likely as a result of their disproportionate influence in the Senate. In addition, the presence of a Republican Congressional delegation increases pork spending in the state. Finally, the tenure of a state’s senior Senator has a large effect on the state’s receipt of earmarked funds. Each additional year of Senate experience by a state’s senior Senator results in a $4.48 increase in earmarked dollars per capita for that state’s residents.

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Economics Commons



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