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Reforming Legislatures: Is one House better than two?

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  • Giovanni Facchini
  • Cecilia Testa

Abstract

During the last decade unicameral proposals have been put forward in fourteen US states. In this paper we propose a theoretical framework casting some lights on the drawbacks of bicameral state legislatures and on the effects of the proposed constitutional reforms. In a setting where lawmakers interact with a lobby through a bargaining process and with voters by means of elections, we show that when time constraints are binding, bicameralism might lead to a decline in the legislator's bargaining power vis-à-vis the lobby and to a reduction in his electoral accountability. On the other hand, when the time constraint is not binding, bicameralism might improve electoral accountability. Hence, arguments suggesting that bicameralism is a panacea against the abuse of power by elected legislators should be taken with due caution and the proposed unicameral reforms in US states may indeed reduce corruption levels among elected representatives.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 2659.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2659

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Related research

Keywords: bicameralism; corruption; lobbying; bargaining; elections;

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References

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  1. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
  2. B. Douglas Bernheim & Antonio Rangel & Luis Rayo, 2006. "The Power of the Last Word in Legislative Policy Making," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 74(5), pages 1161-1190, 09.
  3. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinksi, 1995. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," Department of Economics Working Papers 1995-01, McMaster University.
  4. Glaeser, Edward L. & Saks, Raven E., 2006. "Corruption in America," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(6-7), pages 1053-1072, August.
  5. Besley, Timothy J. & Coate, Stephen, 2000. "Elected Versus Appointed Regulators: Theory And Evidence," CEPR Discussion Papers 2381, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
  7. Testa, Cecilia, 2010. "Bicameralism and corruption," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 181-198, February.
  8. McKelvey, Richard D. & Riezman, Raymond., 1990. "Seniority in Legislatures," Working Papers 725, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  9. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2003. "A Structural Model of Government Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 27-70, January.
  10. Tim Besley & Stephen Coate, . ""An Economic Model of Representative Democracy''," CARESS Working Papres 95-02, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  11. Persson, Torsten & Roland, Gerard & Tabellini, Guido, 1997. "Separation of Powers and Political Accountability," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1163-1202, November.
  12. Poole, Keith T. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1996. "Are legislators ideologues or the agents of constituents?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(3-5), pages 707-717, April.
  13. Muthoo, Abhinay & Shepsle, Kenneth, 2007. "The Constitutional Choice of Bicameralism," MPRA Paper 5825, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  14. Roger B. Myerson & Daniel Diermeier, 1999. "Bicameralism and Its Consequences for the Internal Organization of Legislatures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1182-1196, December.
  15. Heller, William B, 2001. "Political Denials: The Policy Effect of Intercameral Partisan Differences in Bicameral Parliamentary Systems," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 34-61, April.
  16. Bradbury, John Charles & Crain, W. Mark, 2001. "Legislative organization and government spending: cross-country evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 309-325, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Michael Funke & Marc Gronwald, 2009. "A Convex Hull Approach to Counterfactual Analysis of Trade Openness and Growth," Quantitative Macroeconomics Working Papers 20906, Hamburg University, Department of Economics.

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