Journal Article

Political Dynasties

Ernesto Dal Bó, Pedro Dal Bó and Jason Snyder

in The Review of Economic Studies

Published on behalf of Review of Economic Studies Ltd

Volume 76, issue 1, pages 115-142
Published in print January 2009 | ISSN: 0034-6527
Published online January 2009 | e-ISSN: 1467-937X | DOI:
Political Dynasties

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Political dynasties have long been present in democracies, raising concerns that inequality in the distribution of political power may reflect imperfections in democratic representation. However, the persistence of political elites may simply reflect differences in ability or political vocation across families and not their entrenchment in power. We show that dynastic prevalence in the Congress of the U.S. is high compared to that in other occupations and that political dynasties do not merely reflect permanent differences in family characteristics. On the contrary, using two instrumental variable techniques we find that political power is self-perpetuating: legislators who hold power for longer become more likely to have relatives entering Congress in the future. Thus, in politics, power begets power.

Keywords: D72

Journal Article.  10309 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Analysis of Collective Decision-making

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