In this study, CCP Academic Advisor Jeff Milyo, a Professor of Economics of the University of Missouri, tests the hypothesis that restrictive campaign finance laws improve citizens’ perceptions of government. As Milyo explains, the political and legal battle over campaign finance reform hinges on differing views about the importance of such regulations for preserving and enhancing the integrity of democracy.
Milyo uses a novel data-set on individual-level trust and confidence in state government created by pooling the results of 43 national polls spanning three decades. The presence of state identifiers in these polls allows the variation in campaign finance laws across states and over time to be exploited in order to identify the treatment effect of various reforms on individuals’ trust and confidence in their own state government. Overall, Milyo finds that campaign finance regulations are simply not important determinants of trust and confidence in government