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Service Representation in a Federal System: A Field Experiment

  • Peter John Loewen (a1) and Michael Kenneth MacKenzie (a2)


Federal systems can also provide citizens with multiple avenues to obtain service representation. In shared issue areas, citizens are officially represented by two sets of politicians. When politicians are willing to cross jurisdictional boundaries, citizens might also obtain help or information from more than one set of politicians, even in areas of exclusive jurisdiction. We report an experiment designed to examine responses to requests for assistance in different issue areas. Our sample includes 202 Canadian politicians, each of whom received two requests for assistance from fictional constituents. We show that federal arrangements can enhance service representation. On average, politicians are as helpful on issues of shared jurisdiction as issues of exclusive jurisdiction. They are less helpful for issues outside of their jurisdiction. These results suggest that federal arrangements can work to provide citizens with multiple access points to their representative, even in areas that fall outside their representatives’ jurisdictional purviews.



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We received helpful comments from Royce Koop, Don Green, Dan Butler, Daniel Rubenson, Paul Quirk, and participants at the workshop on parties and elections held at Memorial University in Fall 2010. The data, code, and any additional materials required to replicate all analyses in this article are available at the Journal of Experimental Political Science Dataverse within the Harvard Dataverse Network at” (Loewen 2018). Loewen acknowledges financial support via start up funds from the Dean of the University of Toronto-Mississauga. We declare no material conflicts of interest.



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Service Representation in a Federal System: A Field Experiment

  • Peter John Loewen (a1) and Michael Kenneth MacKenzie (a2)


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