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A representative legislature and regulatory agency capture


Weingast, Barry Robert (1978) A representative legislature and regulatory agency capture. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/XES1-ZP09.


This thesis develops a model of the policy making process and applies it to the issue of regulatory agency capture. The model allows the possibility of substantial influence of unorganized, nonproducer groups. It shows that under certain circumstances an agency will provide benefits for these groups as long as they continue to participate electorally on the issue (i.e., as long as the regulatory issue remains a component of voters' decisions between candidates). The model is called the political cycles model because of the following two conclusions. Based on a comparative static result, it shows that if the mass group no longer generates electoral rewards, producers will dominate agency policy making. The second conclusion is that the process may work in reverse; a captured agency may be revitalized when a mass group begins to generate rewards on this issue. Following the theoretical presentation, Part III tests the political cycles model against alternative conceptions of agency capture, (the cartel-by-design and the life cycle hypothesis). The models make different predictions about Congressional appropriations behavior under specified circumstances. Budgetary patterns for several agencies are observed to determine which model most adequately explains the observations. The results, though tentative, reveal the influence of nonproducer groups in a manner which rules out both the life cycle and the cartel-by-design models while supporting the model presented here.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Social Sciences
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Noll, Roger G.
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:9 September 1977
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:06232011-113415674
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:6526
Deposited By: Benjamin Perez
Deposited On:23 Jun 2011 20:05
Last Modified:09 Nov 2022 19:20

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