Income inequality and distributive politics: Evidence from pork barrel and social spending

Author's Department

Public Policy & Administration Department

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Journal of Political and Military Sociology

Publication Date



This article examines whether pork-barrel spending by the U.S. Congress reduces income inequality. The study addresses two main questions: first, it examines the effect of defense and transportation pork spending on levels of inequality; and second, it asks to what extent spending on social programs affects the level of inequality. Using Frank's (2008) cmd Galbraith and Hale's (2007) state-level data on inequality within the United States, the study finds that defense pork spending increases economic inequality, while the impact of transportation pork spending is insignificant. Concerning the states' social spending on inequality, pension spending is significant and negatively affects inequality across the model.

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