Discussion paper

DP15141 Power, Scrutiny, and Congressmen's Favoritism for Friends' Firm

Does more political power always lead to more favoritism? The usual affirmative answer overlooks scrutiny's role in shaping the pattern of favoritism over the ladder of power. When attaining higher-powered positions under even stricter scrutiny, politicians may reduce quid-pro-quo favors towards connected firms to preserve their career prospect. Around close Congress elections, we find RDD-based evidence of this adverse effect that a politician's win reduces his former classmates' firms stock value by 2.8%. As predicted, this effect varies by cross-state scrutiny, politicians' power, firms' size and governance, and connection strength. It diminishes as a politician's career concern fades over time.


Do, Q, Y Lee, B Nguyen and K Nguyen (eds) (2020), “DP15141 Power, Scrutiny, and Congressmen's Favoritism for Friends' Firm”, CEPR Press Discussion Paper No. 15141. https://cepr.org/publications/dp15141