Are Legislators More Productive When They Run for Higher Office?

35 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2012 Last revised: 14 Oct 2012

See all articles by Daniel M. Butler

Daniel M. Butler

Yale University - Department of Political Science

Joshua Revesz

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: October 13, 2012

Abstract

Bill introductions are a key part of the representation process. Before a bill can be considered, a legislator must propose it. We gain insights into legislators’ behavior at the proposal stage by studying how running for higher office affects the bills that legislators introduce. After exploiting variation in West Virginia and the U.S. Congress to mitigate concerns about selection bias, we find that legislators seeking higher office propose more bills on a wider range of topics. Further, the bills that legislators propose line up with voters' interests; however issues important to underrepresented groups, such as the poor, do not receive the same level of attention. These results suggest that bias in the legislative agenda arises, at least in part, because of the issues that legislators omit to pursue. Our results also have implications for legislative institutional design and highlight the theoretically important difference between legislators' proactive and reactive behaviors.

Keywords: Progressive ambition

Suggested Citation

Butler, Daniel M. and Revesz, Joshua, Are Legislators More Productive When They Run for Higher Office? (October 13, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2130666 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2130666

Daniel M. Butler (Contact Author)

Yale University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Box 208269
New Haven, DC 06520-8269
United States

Joshua Revesz

affiliation not provided to SSRN