Geographic Isolation and Pork Barrel Projects
By Joshua Hall
In The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics (Journal of Political Economy, 1981), Weingast, Shepsle and Johnsen lay out the costs and benefits of geographically earmarked pork barrel spending. In their analysis, government spending that goes to out-of-district factor owners does not provide a political benefit to the legislator who brought spending to her home district since out-of-district factor owners cannot vote in the member's district who got the funding. Other things being equal, legislators should want as much of government spending to go to in-district factor owners. This suggests that more rural areas that are geographically isolated should have more pork barrel spending because the returns to their legislator are larger per dollar spent, ceteris paribus.