Testing an Informational Theory of Legislation: Evidence from the U.S. House of Representatives

32 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2012 Last revised: 12 Oct 2012

See all articles by Attila Ambrus

Attila Ambrus

Duke University - Department of Economics

Hye Young You

Vanderbilt University

László Sándor

Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg

Date Written: October 9, 2012

Abstract

Using data on roll calls from the U.S. House of Representatives, this paper finds empirical support for informational theories of legislative decision-making. Consistent with the theoretical prediction, the bias of the committee a bill gets assigned to is strongly positively associated with the bias of its sponsor, and unbiased sponsors in expectation get assigned to roughly unbiased committees. Moreover, we find a negative relationship between the sponsor's absolute bias and the probability that the legislation is processed by closed rule. Despite these empirical regularities, there is a large variation in the data, suggesting that considerations other than informational efficiency are also important in committee appointments and procedural rule selection. As far as we know, our paper is the first one that provides quantitative empirical support for a theory of cheap talk versus delegation, in any setting.

Suggested Citation

Ambrus, Attila and You, Hye Young and Sándor, László, Testing an Informational Theory of Legislation: Evidence from the U.S. House of Representatives (October 9, 2012). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper No. 121. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1990484 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1990484

Attila Ambrus (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Hye Young You

Vanderbilt University ( email )

Department of Political Science
Commons Center 353, 230 Appleton Place
Nashville, TN 37240
United States

HOME PAGE: http://hyeyoungyou.com

László Sándor

Luxembourg School of Finance, University of Luxembourg ( email )

4 Rue Albert Borschette
Luxembourg, L-1246
Luxembourg

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