IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Bargaining in Legislatures: An Experimental Investigation of Open versus Closed Amendment Rules


  • Guillaume R. Frechette

    (Ohio State University)

  • John H. Kagel

    (Ohio State University)

  • Steven Lehrer

    (University of Pittsburgh)


We investigate the Baron and Ferejohn (1989) noncooperative game theoretic bargaining model of legislative equilibrium. Legislative outcomes are sensitive to formal rules specifying who may make proposals and how they will be voted on. With a random proposal recognition rule and a closed amendment rule (proposals are voted up or down with no room for amendments) the model predicts no delays in benefit allocation, that benefits will be allocated to a minimal winning coalition, and that benefits within the coalition will be strongly skewed in favor of the proposer. In contrast, with a random proposal recognition rule and an open amendment rule (proposals may be amended before they are voted on) the model predicts delays in benefit allocation, that benefits will be more evenly spread among winning coalition members, and that coalitions need not be restricted to a minimal majority. With experience we find strong qualitative support for the model's predictions: All proposals are passed without delay with the closed rule versus 81% of all proposals with the open rule. Minimal winning coalitions are effectively proposed in 67% of all cases with the closed rule versus 4% with the open rule, and benefits are more evenly distributed with open rule. Quantitative predictions of the model fail however: Most importantly, proposers consistently fail to allocate themselves anything close to what the theory predicts. Further, the probability of immediate acceptance is much higher than predicted in the open rule as proposers consistently expand the winning coalition beyond the model's prediction in attempts to limit amendments. The evolution of play over time is reported (outcomes under both treatments are much more similar early on then later). Tests show that subjects' votes in favor of a proposed allocation are significantly affected by their own share (in the expected direction) but that the distribution of shares across all voters has no significant effect.

Suggested Citation

  • Guillaume R. Frechette & John H. Kagel & Steven Lehrer, 2000. "Bargaining in Legislatures: An Experimental Investigation of Open versus Closed Amendment Rules," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1515, Econometric Society.
  • Handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1515

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ecm:wc2000:1515. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.