Publications by Author: Abrams, Samuel

Shepsle, Kenneth A, Samuel Abrams, Robert Van Houweling, and Peter Hanson. 2007. “The Senate Electoral Cycle and Bicameral Appropriations Politics”.Abstract
We consider the consequences of the Senate electoral cycle and bicameralism for distributive politics, introducing the concept of contested credit claiming, i.e. that members of a state’s House and Senate delegations must share the credit for appropriations that originate in their chamber with delegation members in the other chamber. Using data that isolates appropriations of each chamber, we test a model of the strategic incentives contested credit claiming creates. Our empirical analysis indicates that the Senate electoral cycle induces a back-loading of benefi…ts to the end of senatorial terms, but that the House blunts this tendency with countercyclical appropriations. Our analysis informs our understanding of appropriations earmarking, and points a way forward in studying the larger consequences of bicameral legislatures.
Iversen, Torben, David Soskice, and Samuel Abrams. 2005. “Interests, Parties, and Social Embeddedness: Why Rational People Vote”.Abstract

After five decades of research the answers to two questions that are critical to our understanding of democracy are still incomplete. The first is why some people acquire costly information about politics when we would expect them to be “rationally ignorant.” The second is why people vote when we would expect them to “rationally abstain.” Both were originally identified by Downs (1957) and spring from the fact that individuals are rarely able to affect the outcome of an election.

Informed and participating citizens are the bread and butter of democratic politics, and they are critical for many of our models of politics. People who are reasonably well informed about their own interests are necessary for stable political competition, and nearly all political economy models assumes a link between economic interests and political behavior. Why people tend to be better informed and participate more frequently than simple rational choice models would allow therefore continues to be of great practical and theoretical importance.

Prepared for presentation at the 2005 Comparative Political Economy Workshop at the Center For European Studies, Harvard University.
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