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Political Science and Political Economy Research Seminar

A Theory of Small Campaign Contributions

Micael Castanheira (University of Brussles (ULB)), joint with Laurent Bouton and Allan Drazen

Tuesday 30 March 2021 14:00 - 15:30

32L 3.05, 3rd Floor Conference Room, LSE, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as online seminars or as online and in person. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, current restrictions mean in-person seminars are only open to members of the LSE community (those with a valid LSE ID card).

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom.


About this event

Small donors are an important source of financing for political campaigns. Yet the literature focuses mainly on large donors and an influence motive. We propose a theory of consumption-motivated small donors with a key novelty: it centers on the interactions between small donors and the candidates' fund-raising strategy. We find that, through the candidates' actions, consumption-motivated small donors end up contributing more in close races, and to the campaign of the underdog. The candidates' actions also amplify the effects of donors' income on contributions. These patterns find support in the empirical literature. We then assess the impact of standard tools of campaign regulation: caps on individual contributions and on total spending. We find that, due to equilibrium effects, those tools may produce outcomes opposite to intended objectives. Finally, we identify a tax-and-subsidy scheme that mutes the effect of income while still allowing donors to voice the intensity of their support.

The Political Science and Political Economy (PSPE) research group at the LSE brings together faculty and PhD students who do quantitative and/or formal research on political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, and political economy.

The PSPE Research Seminar provides a venue for researchers (mostly from outside of the LSE) to present their work.

These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 14.00-15.30, both ONLINE AND IN PERSON in room 32L 3.05, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar coordinator: Dr Stephane Wolton

Contact gov.comms@lse.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list and to recieve the zoom link.


This event will take place in 32L 3.05, 3rd Floor Conference Room, LSE, 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PH. The building is labelled on the map.

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