Public Choice

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 169–186 | Cite as

Political cheating

  • John R. LottJr.


This paper shows that how a politician votes is unrelated to whether he faces re-election. This contradicts the universal agreement by economists that political behavior is constrained by the threat of re-election. Contrary to the existing work on ideology, I show that ideology can prevent rather than cause opportunistic behavior. My discussion of ideology can explain why the last period does not affect how a politician votes but only how often he votes. Besides providing an explanation for how politicians can internalize the long-run returns to investments through ideology, my results show that political parties have no effect on how retiring congressmen vote. Finally, I shall try to argue that politicians are search and not experience goods.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Amacher, R.C., and Boyes, W.J. (1978). Cycles in senatorial voting behavior. Public Choice 33 (3): 5–13.Google Scholar
  2. Barro, R.J. (Spring 1973). The control of politicians: An economic model. Public Choice 14: 19–42.Google Scholar
  3. Kalt, J.P. (1981). The economics and politics of oil price regulation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Kalt, J.P., and Zupan, M. (June 1984). Capture and ideology in economic theory of politics. American Economic Review 74 (3): 279–300.Google Scholar
  5. Klein, B., and Leffler, K.B. (August 1981). The role of market forces in assuring contractual performance. Journal of Political Economy 89 (4): 615–641.Google Scholar
  6. Kau, J.B., and Rubin, P.H. (October 1979). Self-interest, ideology and logrolling in congressional voting. Journal of Law and Economics 22: 365–385.Google Scholar
  7. Lott, J.R. (1986a). Brand names and barriers to entry in political markets. Public Choice 51 (1): 87–92.Google Scholar
  8. Lott, J.R. (1986b). Political cheating. Texas A&M Working Paper.Google Scholar
  9. Lott, J.R. (1986c). Education, democracy, and the cost of government wealth transfers. Montana State University Working Paper.Google Scholar
  10. Lott, J.R. (1986d). The institutional arrangement of public education: The puzzle of exclusive territories. Public Choice, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  11. Lott, J.R. (1987). The effect of nontransferable property rights on the efficiency of political markets: Some evidence. Journal of Public Economics, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  12. Nelson, P. (March/April 1970). Information and consumer behavior. Journal of Political Economy 78 (2): 311–329.Google Scholar
  13. Nelson, P. (July/August 1974). Advertising as information. Journal of Political Economy 82 (4): 729–754.Google Scholar
  14. Nelson, P. (August 1976). Political information. Journal of Law and Economics 19 (2): 315–336.Google Scholar
  15. Peltzman, S. (April 1984). Constituent interest and congressional voting. Journal of Law and Economics 27 (1): 181–210.Google Scholar
  16. Telser, L. (August 1976). Comment on political information. Journal of Law and Economics 19 (2): 337–340.Google Scholar
  17. Telser, L. (January 1980). A theory of self-enforcing agreements. Journal of Business 22 (1): 27–44.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • John R. LottJr.
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Hoover InstitutionStanford UniversityStanford
  2. 2.Department of Agricultural Economics and EconomicsMontana State UniversityBozeman

Personalised recommendations