, Volume 69, Issue 3, pp 351-355

Incentives and political contributions

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Two implications from this research are noted. First, from a researcher's viewpoint, our research suggests the importance of age, wealth, tax rates, and marital status as determinants of political contributions by top U.S. wealth-holders. Therefore, these factors should be included in aggregated models that attempt to analyze the relations between such variables as voting, campaign expenditures and the outcomes of elections. Second, from politicians' viewpoints, this research suggests that individual economic variables such as marginal tax rates and wealth are major determinants of individual decisions to contribute to politicians. Assuming that such contributions reflect “votes,” this research suggests the relative importance of focusing campaign promises on economic variables — a strategy that “low tax” politicians like Ronald Reagan and George Bush may keenly be aware of.

The views presented are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the Treasury Department.