Public Choice

, Volume 178, Issue 1–2, pp 217–230 | Cite as

Land lotteries, long-term wealth, and political selection

  • Jason PoulosEmail author


Does personal wealth cause individuals to select into public office? This study exploits the 1805 and 1807 Georgia land lotteries to investigate the hypothesis that wealth increases political power. Most eligible males participated in the lotteries and more than one-in-ten participants won a land prize worth over half of median property wealth. I find no evidence that lottery wealth increases the likelihood of officeholding or running for office, and argue that those null findings are informative because the estimates are not practically different from zero. The absence of a treatment effect implies that commonly observed cross-sectional correlations between personal wealth and officeholding are likely explained by selection effects.


Candidacy Natural experiment Officeholding Wealth shock 

JEL Classification

D72 N31 N41 



I thank Eric Dickson, Sean Gailmard, Pete Leeson, Eric Schickler, and William F. Shughart II for helpful comments. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship under Grant No. DGE 1106400. Any opinion, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Supplementary material

11127_2018_625_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (569 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 569 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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