An Analysis of Welfare Effects of Legislative Term Limits
This paper analyzes the welfare effects of term limits for state legislators. Legislators tend to pursue their own objectives and deviate from the interests of voters as they stay longer in office. However, such long-term incumbents become more productive in transferring wealth to their constituents due to seniority they gain, and voters re-elect the incumbent. Term limits reduce the maximum seniority of a district's legislator and of other districts' legislators as well, affecting the relative seniority of the legislator. Thus, the legislator gains relative seniority sometimes and loses other times under term limits. As a consequence, voters of a district may or may not benefit from term limits. The welfare effects of term limits depend crucially on the shape of the voters' utility function. Copyright 2002 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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