Federal tax policies, congressional voting and natural resources

Fidel Perez-Sebastian, Ohad Raveh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Can abundance of natural resources affect legislators' voting behaviour over federal tax policies? We construct a political economy model of a federalized economy with district heterogeneity in natural resource abundance. The model shows that representatives of natural resource-rich districts are more (less) willing to vote in favour of federal tax increases (decreases). This occurs because resource-rich districts are less responsive to federal tax changes due to the immobile nature of their natural resources. We test the model's predictions using data on roll-call votes in the US House of Representatives over the major federal tax bills initiated during the period of 1945–2003, in conjunction with the presence of active giant oil fields in US congressional districts. Our identification strategy rests on plausibly exogenous giant oil field discoveries and exploitation and narrative-based aggregate federal tax shocks that are exogenous to individual congressional districts and legislators. We find that: (i) resource-rich congressional districts are less responsive to changes in federal taxes and (ii) representatives of resource-rich congressional districts are more (less) supportive of federal tax increases (decreases), controlling for legislator, congressional district and state indicators. Our results indicate that resource richness is approximately half as dominant as the main determinant, namely party affiliation, in driving legislators' voting behaviour over federal tax policies.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1112-1164
Number of pages53
JournalCanadian Journal of Economics
Volume52
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Canadian Economics Association

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