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Direct and Indirect Representation

  • Shigeo Hirano and Michael M. Ting


How much can a constituency influence the power of its representative in the legislature? This article develops a theoretical model of the constituency basis of legislator influence. The key players in the model are interest groups that may receive targeted transfers from the legislature. The model predicts that the amount of transfers that such groups receive is increasing in their ability to help a party win a legislative seat in the next election. This claim is tested using the changes in Japanese central-to-municipality transfers after a representative passes away while in office. The study finds that electorally ‘strong’ constituency groups do not lose transfers when they lose their representatives. However when ‘weak’ constituency groups lose their representatives, the transfers decrease.



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Political Science Department, Columbia University, New York NY (emails:; We thank Massimo Morelli, Virginia Oliveros and participants at the University of Chicago Political Economy Workshop, Stanford Graduate School of Business Political Economy Seminar, Harvard University Political Economy Workshop, Yale ISPS lunch seminar and the 2007 Yale Elections and Distribution Conference for helpful comments and suggestions on an earlier draft. Shigeo Hirano also thanks the Yale CSAP for institutional support while working on this project. An online appendix is available at



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