[gov3009-l] Lenz on ``Getting Rich(er) in Office? Corrpution and Wealth Accumulation in Congress"

Justin Grimmer jgrimmer at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Mar 16 15:32:23 EDT 2009

Dear Applied Statistics Workshop Participants,

Please join us this Wednesday when Gabriel Lenz, MIT Department of Political
Science, will present ``Getting Rich(er) in Office?  Corruption and Wealth
Accumulation in Congress", work that is joint with Kevin Lim.  Gabe provided
the following abstract:

How corrupt is Congress? We provide an indirect test by comparing wealth
accumulation from 1995 to 2005 among members of the U.S. House of
Representatives and members of the public. Data on representatives are from
Personal Financial Disclosure forms and data on the public are from the
Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). To test whether representatives
accumulate wealth at a faster rate than expected, we construct
counterfactuals based on the PSID with two approaches. We first use
statistical models, conditioning on asset distribution over stocks, bonds,
businesses, and land, as well as demographic variables. These models find
representatives accumulating wealth about 20 percent faster than expected.
Second, we employ matching. Unlike the modeling approach, matching finds an
almost identical rate of wealth accumulation among both groups. Further
analysis reveals that matching reduces bias from several incorrect
functional form assumptions in the statistical models. We thus conclude that
representatives report accumulating wealth at a rate consistent with similar
non-representatives, suggesting no aggregate corruption. Besides examining
overall wealth accumulation, we also test for effects of committee
assignments, safe seats, career trajectories, and campaign contributions

The Applied Statistics Workshop meets each Wednesday at 12 noon in K-354
CGIS-Knafel (1737 Cambridge St).  The workshop begins with a light lunch and
presentations usually start around 1215 and last until about 130 pm.

Hope you can make it
Justin Grimmer
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