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Shirking in Congress: Investment Portfolios, Firm Lobbying, and Trade Legislation


These papers examine how legislators' personal preferences, firm lobbying, and electoral pressure interact to shape trade policy. The first paper exploits the two-member districts of the Senate to show that, when voting on preferential trade agreements (PTAs), senators often vote in line with their personal preferences---as revealed by their investment portfolios. Owning firms that lobby on PTAs drives this relationship. The second paper employs multiple analyses---including a time-series, cross-section matching approach---to show that firm lobbying on trade-related legislation increases when legislators own them, supporting my argument that legislators that invest in firms sympathize with the goals of these firms. The third paper leverages the Senate's staggered elections, legislators' post-retirement announcement voting behavior, and variations in salience across PTAs and states to demonstrate that increasing electoral pressure mitigates legislators' tendency to vote their personal preferences on PTAs---evidence that legislators' personal preferences lead to shirking on PTA votes.

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