AN ECONOMIC  ANALYSIS OF CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION

 DURING THE FEDERALIST PERIOD

Abstract

By Cyril Morong, Ph. D.

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Washington State University

May 1991

Chair:    Donald Schaefer

            This dissertation investigates the economic and ideological factors influencing Congressional Roll Call Voting during the Federalist Period in the United States, 1789-1801, by applying a discrete choice analysis to that period's roll call votes.   This research is relevant because it helps explain the causes of change in the institutional structure of our economy, a necessary step for developing a theory of institutional change throughout history.  The major institutional question addressed in the Federalist Period was the balance of power between the states and the federal government.

     This research combines elements of the work done by Kalt and Zupan on voting in the U. S. Senate in the 1970's and the work done by McGuire and Ohsfeldt on the framing and ratification of the constitution.

     The roll call votes for each bill are analyzed with a logit model with a congressman's vote. There are three types of explanatory variables: personal ideology, constituents' economic interests and constituents' ideology. This approach uses the Principal-Agent model. 

      Ideology is defined in the Higgsian sense of a belief system that individuals use as a guide in their personal economic actions, their public policy preferences, and group identification. 

   The results show that both economic interests and ideology were both important factors.  Ideology was more important on legislation that lacked clear cut economic implications while economic variables were more important on bills that did.  Ideology must be used by economists to explain public policy.  The founding fathers formed two political parties, Federalist and Republican, based on economic and ideological differences.  Both factors are also important in determing why the institutional structure changes.


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