My dissertation developed a novel theory regarding the impact of socioeconomic inequality and racial bias on the creation of new laws. It is clear that socioeconomically privileged citizens are overrepresented in policy, but the reason behind this finding had not been specified. My dissertation provides an answer. I propose that the members of Congress who create policy face a trade off: privileged constituents are more easily satisfied with policy and legislation, while the less privileged require constituent service and communication to look favorably on a politician. Thus, representatives from privileged districts should spend more time on legislation, while representatives from underprivileged districts are distracted by fulfilling these other demands. In order to test this theory, I built datasets from Twitter, from disbursements documents provided by the House of Representatives, and from Congressional legislative records. Each of these sources uncovers a substantial trade off extending back to the 1970s between resources devoted to legislation, and resources devoted to non-legislative activities. Understanding the roots of the policy overrepresentation for the privileged can allow policymakers the insights required to remedy the problem.

Link to working paper: Representing the Under-Privileged

Link to working paper: The Outsized Influence of Affluence in Politics is Strongest for Republicans



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