Congress and the Political Economy of Daylight Saving Time, 1918–1985
Gray, Thomas R.
Jenkins, J. A.
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Objective: Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a government policy regulating the timing of daylight during the summer months. While DST's existence is taken for granted in modern American life, the adoption and expansion of the policy was heavily debated, with strong opposition that persists to the present day—a full century after its inception as a World War I energy-efficiency program. After reviewing the history of DST, we analyze the political economy of congressional vote choice on DST policy. Method: We analyze votes of members of Congress on all DST-specific roll calls between 1918 and 1985, assessing whether members voted to expand or reduce DST. Results: We find that ideology, party, geographic location, and the portion of a constituency made up by farmers all strongly predict member support for adopting and expanding DST—and that each of these effects is durable over time. Digging deeper, we find significant evidence for local representation on DST votes, as constituency-specific factors are more strongly associated with congressional vote choice than partisanship or general ideological preferences. Conclusion: Overall, our results provide an original empirical assessment of the factors that drove the adoption and revision of a contentious and significant government policy that endures today. © 2019 by the Southwestern Social Science Association
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