Thursday, April 16, 2009

Correlation and causation.

Found at the intersection of sports and politics....

We examine the correlation between federal government activity and the performance of the D.C. area's National Football League team, the Washington Redskins. We find a significantly positive, non-spurious, and robust correlation between the Redskins' winning percentage and the amount of federal government bureaucratic activity as measured by the number of pages in the Federal Register.

Because the Redskins' performance is prototypically exogenous, we give this surprising result a causal interpretation. Drawing upon public choice theory and behavioral economics, we provide a plausible explanation for the causal mechanism: bureaucrats must make "logrolling" deals in order to expand their regulatory power, and a winning football team acts as a commonly shared source of joyous optimism to lubricate such negotiations.

We do not find the same correlation when examining Congressional activity, which we attribute to legislator loyalty to their home state's team(s). [SSRN]
From there they could go on to conclude that Washington's logrollers for some reason have never been "lubricated" by baseball.

In fact, maybe they've always hated it, as evidenced by the historical record of miserable Washington DC teams, and the little ditty popular among baseball fans throughout the 20th Century...

"Washington DC: First in War, First in Peace, Last in the American League."