Term Limits and Electoral Accountability

LSE PSPE Working Paper No. 3

30 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2007 Last revised: 26 Dec 2007

See all articles by Michael Smart

Michael Smart

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Daniel M. Sturm

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: July 2006

Abstract

Periodic elections are the main instrument through which voters can hold politicians accountable. From this perspective term limits, which restrict voters' ability to reward politicians with re-election, appear counterproductive. We show that despite the disciplining effect of elections, term limits can be ex ante welfare improving from the perspective of voters. By reducing the value of holding office term limits can induce politicians to implement policies that are closer to their private preferences. Such truthful behavior by incumbents in turn results in better screening of incumbents. We show that the combination of these two effects can strictly increase the utility of voters.

Suggested Citation

Smart, Michael and Sturm, Daniel M., Term Limits and Electoral Accountability (July 2006). LSE PSPE Working Paper No. 3, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1077756 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1077756

Michael Smart (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Germany

Daniel M. Sturm

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) - Faculty of Economics ( email )

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Munich, D-80539
Germany
+49 89 2180 1363 (Phone)
+49 89 2180 6227 (Fax)

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