Successfully passed legislation has two consequences. First, it signals some minimum level of political or ideological support for a politician's positions. Second, passed legislation often results in a change in the distribution of government resources of either money or rights. While politicians may benefit politically and materially through either of these mechanisms, we cannot normally distinguish between the two effects. Using a unique feature of the Swedish parliament, we are able to isolate the distributional consequences of passing legislation.
Following the 1973 election, the Swedish parliament was evenly split between government and opposition. This lead to a relatively large number of bills on which votes were tied. These bills were passed or defeated according to a lottery. Since passage is random, the only average difference between these bills are their distributional consequences. Using later electoral data and individual-level personal income tax records, we compare the political and material personal consequences of passing legislation.