Legislative Effectiveness and Legislative Life

41 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2004

See all articles by Gerard Padró i Miquel

Gerard Padró i Miquel

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James M. Snyder

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics

Date Written: July 2004

Abstract

We study an under-utilized source of data on legislative effectiveness, and exploit its panel structure to uncover several interesting patterns. We find that effectiveness rises sharply with tenure, at least for the first few terms even after controlling for legislators institutional positions, party affiliation, and other factors. Effectiveness never declines with tenure, even out to nine terms. The increase in effectiveness is not simply due to electoral attrition and selective retirement, but appears to be due to learning-by-doing. We also find evidence that a significant amount of "positive sorting" occurs in the legislature, with highly talented legislators moving more quickly into positions of responsibility and power. Finally, effectiveness has a positive impact on incumbents' electoral success, and on the probability of moving to higher office. These findings have important implications for arguments about term limits, the incumbency advantage, and seniority rule.

Keywords: voting, legislatures, learning-by-doing

JEL Classification: D70, D72, J24

Suggested Citation

Padró i Miquel, Gerard and Snyder, James M., Legislative Effectiveness and Legislative Life (July 2004). MIT Department of Economics Working Paper No. 04-28. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=576406 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.576406

Gerard Padró i Miquel

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James M. Snyder (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science & Department of Economics ( email )

E53-457
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-253-2669 (Phone)

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