PSC 336: Money and Politics

Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 - 10:50, School of Management 001

Prof. Simon Weschle
Email: swweschl at
Student Hours: Tuesday, 1:00 - 3:00, 332 Eggers or Zoom (see Syllabus for details)

Ayşenur Değer, adegerya at
Student Hours: Thursday 11:30 - 1:00, Eggers 100H

Money and politics are inextricably linked. Interest groups or wealthy individuals try to use bribes or campaign contributions to influence political decisions. Politicians, in turn, need money to finance election campaigns, or they use their position to enrich themselves. And voters are thought to be more likely to vote for candidates who run expensive campaigns or hand out gifts. In this course, we will look at political science research on money and politics in different countries around the world. We will try to answer the following questions: How much money is there in politics, and how can we measure it? What is the money used for? How much does it influence policy? What are the consequences? And finally, should we try to reduce the influence of money on politics, and if so what ways to do so can be successful?

Fisman, Ray, and Miriam A. Golden (2017): Corruption. What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press.
I will refer to the book as FG. The book is available electronically from the Library. All other readings will be posted to Blackboard.


  • Class Journal and Participation (25%): Attendance, class participation, class journal.
  • Exams (40%): Take place on March 7 and April 25 (tentatively).
  • Country Research Report (35%): First part (5%) due March 21 (tenatively), short country presentations video (5%) during the final week of class, final report (25%) due May 3.

For more detailed information on assignments, class policies, and all of the fine print, please see the Syllabus.

Below is a continuously updated class schedule. It contains information on what topics we are covering as well as on the readings and assignments. Please check this site EVERY WEEK.

Part 1: What Are We Talking About?

Part 2: Who is Involved in Money and Politics, Why, and How?

  • 1/30: Bureaucrats and Citizens
  • 2/1: Bureaucrats and Citizens, Continued
    • Slides
    • Reading: Crawford, Robert J. and N. Craig Smith. 2019. Ziqitza Health Care Limited: Responding to Corruption. (Blackboard) Class Journal Questions
  • 2/6: Special Interests
    • Slides
    • Reading: Olson, Mancur. 1965. The Logic of Collective Action. Excerpts: Ch. 1 (Sections A, B, nontechnical summary of D), Ch. 6 (Sections D and H). (Blackboard) Class Journal Questions
  • 2/8: Special Interests, Continued
    • Slides
    • Reading: Ansolabehere, Stephen, John M. de Figueiredo, and James M. Snyder. 2003. "Why Is There so Little Money in U.S. Politics?" Journal of Economic Perspectives 17(1): 105-130. (Blackboard) Class Journal Questions
  • 2/13: Special Interests, Continued
    • Slides
    • Reading: Fisman, Ray and Edward Miguel. 2008. Economic Gangsters. Corruption, Violence and the Poverty of Nations. Ch. 2 (Blackboard). Class Journal Questions
  • 2/15: Lobbyists
  • 2/20: Lobbyists, Continued: Guest Speaker Cydney Johnson, SU Vice President of Community Engagement and Government Relations
  • 2/22: No Class
  • 2/27: Politicians and Voters
    • Slides
    • Reading: Fisman and Golden, Ch. 5 (Section 5.2 only) and: Szakonyi, David. 2018. "Businesspeople in Elected Office: Identifying Private Benefits from Firm-Level Returns." American Political Science Review 112(2): 322-338. (Blackboard). Class Journal Questions
  • 2/29: Politicians and Voters, Continued
    • Slides
    • Reading: Gerber, Alan S., James G. Gimpel, Donald P. Green, and Daron R. Shaw. 2011. "How Large and Long-lasting Are the Persuasive Effects of Televised Campaign Ads? Results from a Randomized Field Experiment". American Political Science Review 105(1): 135-150. Skip the section "Gauging the Effects of Broadcast Television and Radio". (Blackboard). Class Journal Questions
  • 3/5: Exam 1
  • 3/7: Politicians and Voters, Continued: Guest Speaker William Magnarelli, Member of the New York State Assembly
  • 3/12 and 3/14: Spring Break