The Political Economy of the National Historic Register
By Joshua Hall
In 1966, the U.S. Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act. The Act created the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) to catalog all of the nation’s important historical objects, buildings, and areas. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service and overseen by the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands of the U.S. Congress. A body of literature in public choice shows that bureaus respond to the wishes of Congress (Weingast, 1984). This model of bureaucratic behavior is called the congressional dominance model and it predicts that bureaucrats act in a manner consistent with the preferences of legislators overseeing their bureau. To what extent do politics determine listings on the NRHP? Having state representation on the Subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation, and Public Lands would seem to be the first place to start for those interested in exploring this topic. Every single listing since 1968, the date it was listed, and its location in available from the NRHP. Many of the state-level correlates can be easily obtained from IPPSR’s Correlates of State Policy at Michigan State.