Self-Imposed Term Limits
In 'Reconciling voters' behavior with legislative term limits,' Dick and Lott argue that since more senior representatives are better at rent-seeking, there is an inefficient tendency to re-elect incumbents. In this model, term limits are preferred collectively by constituencies, even though no constituency would independently oust its incumbent representative. However, many term limits are unilaterally self-imposed (in particular the 22nd amendment limiting presidents' term to two), and their model cannot explain these limits. In this comment, the author suggests that term limits may be self-imposed by risk-averse voters, who prefer cycling between left and right wing candidates to a once-and-for-all election that imposed a candidate of a single ideology on the entre electorate. The market failure that makes term limits helpful is that out of power minorities cannot bribe the median voter. Copyright 1997 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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