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Seniority and anti-competitive restrictions on the legislative common pool: tenure’s impact on the overall production of legislation and the concentration of political benefits

  • Russell Sobel


  • Matt Ryan

It is well established that geographic areas benefit, in terms of the share of government spending they capture, from having a legislator with longer tenure, holding constant the tenure of other legislators. However, the implications of this literature for how the total production of legislation changes if all members gained seniority is less clear. Increased levels and dispersion of seniority within Congress generate a cartel-like effect, whereby legislators restrict the quantity of legislation enacted and increase the average price of each passed bill. The analysis provides a natural experiment to gauge the impacts of the emergence of the congressional committee system. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 153 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 171-190

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:153:y:2012:i:1:p:171-190
DOI: 10.1007/s11127-011-9780-4
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  1. McCormick, Robert E & Tollison, Robert D, 1978. "Legislatures as Unions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(1), pages 63-78, February.
  2. Weingast, Barry R & Marshall, William J, 1988. "The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 132-63, February.
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  7. Shughart, William F, II & Tollison, Robert D, 1985. "Legislation and Political Business Cycles," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 38(1), pages 43-59.
  8. Crain, W Mark, 1977. "On the Structure and Stability of Political Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(4), pages 829-42, August.
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