The Effect of Distributive Politics on Electoral Participation: Evidence from 70 Million Agricultural Payments

  • Gabor Simonovits
  • Neil MalhotraEmail author
  • Raymond Ye Lee
  • Andrew Healy
Original Paper


Policy feedbacks take place when public policies change mass participation and mobilize key constituencies. This can influence future rounds of policymaking and solidify government programs. We explore policy feedback in the context of a particularistic policy targeted to a specific electoral constituency: agricultural producers receiving payments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We exploit a novel dataset of: (1) payments distributed to producers by the USDA; and (2) participation in elections for the Farm Service Agency county committees that help administer these payments. The data are novel in that we rely on individual-level administrative histories of actual payments made by the USDA as well as documented forms of participation such as voting in elections and running for office. We find that receiving agricultural payments is associated with a 20% increase in the probability of voting in county elections, a 34% increase in the probability of running for office, and a 25% increase in the probability of winning office.


Participation Policy feedback Agricultural policy Panel data 


Supplementary material

11109_2019_9572_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (137 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 137 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gabor Simonovits
    • 1
  • Neil Malhotra
    • 2
    Email author
  • Raymond Ye Lee
    • 3
  • Andrew Healy
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceCentral European UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Graduate School of BusinessStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  3. 3.Department of Management Science and EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Cleveland BrownsClevelandUSA

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