Interest Groups and the Electoral Control of Politicians
39 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2005
Date Written: February 2, 2005
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: elections, interest groups, voting, rent-seeking
JEL Classification: D7, D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation