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Friday, May 30, 2008

Pork - the other white meat?

There are a lot of headlines that focus on pork, and to some extent pork is rather distasteful (not the meat but the government spending). The Citizens Against Government Waste have released their 2008 Pig Book documenting some of the more outrageous spending projects pushed by individual Congressmen.

A table at the end lists the amount of pork by state. Surprisingly, the per-capita spending on pork is only $33+ dollars. This is the secret of pork: the spending is not enough to really get people up-in-arms.

I gathered the economic freedom index from the Fraser Index (albeit for 2003) and related total pork to population and economic freedom:

. reg pork pop efi03,r

Linear regression Number of obs = 50
F( 2, 47) = 63.01
Prob > F = 0.0000
R-squared = 0.6163
Root MSE = 84.513

| Robust
pork | Coef. Std. Err. t P>|t| [95% Conf. Interval]
pop | 15.83419 1.515835 10.45 0.000 12.78473 18.88366
efi03 | -58.28499 22.19163 -2.63 0.012 -102.9288 -13.64119
_cons | 506.491 160.6341 3.15 0.003 183.3368 829.6451

States with greater economic freedom tend to have less pork spending? Is this because representatives from states that are more economically free tend to ask for less pork or is it because those who represent more economically free states know that if they bring pork home it will not be appreciated?

This is a potentially important issue: is pork spending driven by supply or demand side issues? Pork spending often comes with strings much like inviting a vampire into your house is said to come with strings. Perhaps those who live in economically free states, which by definition tend to have less government intervention in the market, are less excited about bringing home the pork?

Stata data file

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What about including three dummy variables in the model, one for a state that has one Democratic senator, another for a state that has two, and a third for a state that has none?

What about including the combined age (or years served) of a state's senators?
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