Washington D.C. [USA], Jan. 5 : A study reveals that increasing politicians' paychecks is not likely to encourage more working-class people to run for office.
The study was published online in the American Political Science Review.
Reformers from Duke University often say that low legislative salaries are a big reason why wealthy or retired Americans are far more likely to hold office.
However, a study found that in states offer more pay, legislatures remain dominated by white-collar professionals.
"On a lot of measures, politicians who are paid more perform better," said by Nicholas Carnes.
"Research shows they have greater expertise, show up for votes more often and are more productive. Reformers argue higher pay also would have the benefit of increasing economic diversity in our political institutions. Our research shows this isn't true," Carnes added.
What reformers overlook is the extraordinary cost of campaigning -- in money, time and energy, Carnes said.
The new study examined data on the salaries and employment backgrounds of state legislators in all 50 states.
They surveyed 10,000 candidates who ran for state legislative offices that year, whether successful or not, as well as data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures in 1993, 1995 and 2007.
Results were consistent across all the years studied, Carnes said.
Legislative salaries vary widely from state to state. New Hampshire and New Mexico are on the low end, paying, respectively, USD200 per two-year term and nothing but a USD150 per diem while in session. On the other end of the spectrum, California, New York and Michigan pay more than USD75,000 a year.
The number of former blue-collar workers holding elected state offices was lowest -- about two percent on average -- in states paying the highest salaries, and highest -- about seven percent -- in states that pay the least.
"Rather than making political jobs more appealing to lower-paid people, it appears higher salaries make them even more attractive to higher-paid professionals and make it even more difficult for working-class people to break into politics," Carnes said.