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Term Length and Political Performance

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  • Ernesto Dal Bó
  • Martín Rossi

Abstract

We evaluate the effects of the duration of legislative terms on the performance of legislators. We exploit a natural experiment in the Argentine House of Representatives where term lengths were assigned randomly. Results for various objective measures of legislative output show that longer terms enhance legislative performance. We use a second experiment in the Argentine Senate to determine whether our results are specific to a particular chamber and a particular time. The results from the Senate reinforce the idea that longer terms enhance legislative productivity. Our results highlight limits to classic theories of electoral discipline (Barro 1973, Ferejohn 1986) predicting that shorter terms, by tightening accountability, will incentivize hard work by politicians. We discuss and test possible explanations. Our results suggest that the "accountability logic" is overcome by an "investment logic."

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14511.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Publication status: published as Term Length and The Effort of Politicians, Review of Economic Studies 78(4), October 2011, (with Martín Rossi)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14511

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Cited by:
  1. Martinez-Bravo, Monica & Padro, Gerard & Qian, Nancy & Yao, Yang, 2012. "The Effects of Democratization on Public Goods and Redistribution: Evidence from China," CEPR Discussion Papers 8975, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Martinez-Bravo, Monica & Padró i Miquel, Gerard & Qian, Nancy & Yao, Yang, 2011. "Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China," CEPR Discussion Papers 8368, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2011. "Policymakers' Horizon and Trade Reforms," CEPR Discussion Papers 8561, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Beath, Andrew & Christia, Fotini & Enikolopov, Ruben, 2013. "Do elected councils improve governance ? experimental evidence on local institutions in Afghanistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6510, The World Bank.
  5. Mark Schelker, 2012. "The influence of auditor term length and term limits on US state general obligation bond ratings," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 27-49, January.
  6. Maura Francese & Massimiliano Piacenza & Marzia Romanelli & Gilberto Turati, 2012. "Understanding Inappropriateness in Health Care. The Role of Supply Structure, Pricing Policies and Political Institutions in Caesarean Deliveries," Working papers 001, Department of Economics and Statistics (Dipartimento di Scienze Economico-Sociali e Matematico-Statistiche), University of Torino.
  7. Christensen, Jonas Gade, 2011. "Democracy and Expropriations," Working Papers in Economics 06/11, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
  8. Decio Coviello & Stefano Gagliarducci, 2010. "Tenure in Office and Public Procurement," CEIS Research Paper 179, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 21 Dec 2010.

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