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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."

Suggested Citation

  • Ernesto Dal Bó & Martín Rossi, 2008. "Term Length and Political Performance," NBER Working Papers 14511, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14511
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Yang Yao & Nancy Qia & Monica Martinez Bravo & Gerard Padro i Miquel, 2011. "Do Local Elections in Non-Democracies Increase Accountability? Evidence from Rural China," Working Papers id:3931, eSocialSciences.
    2. Alberto Galasso & Mihkel Tombak, 2014. "Switching to Green: The Timing of Socially Responsible Innovation," Journal of Economics & Management Strategy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(3), pages 669-691, September.
    3. Maura Francese & Massimiliano Piacenza & Marzia Romanelli & Gilberto Turati, 2011. "Understanding Inappropriateness in Health Care: The Role of Supply Structure, Pricing Policies and Political Institutions in Caesarean Deliveries," ERSA conference papers ersa11p1439, European Regional Science Association.
    4. Conconi, Paola & Facchini, Giovanni & Zanardi, Maurizio, 2014. "Policymakers' horizon and trade reforms: The protectionist effect of elections," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 102-118.
    5. 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.
    6. Decio Coviello & Stefano Gagliarducci, 2017. "Tenure in Office and Public Procurement," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 9(3), pages 59-105, August.
    7. Monica Martinez-Bravo & Gerard Padró i Miquel & Nancy Qian & Yang Yao, 2012. "Elections in China," NBER Working Papers 18101, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
    9. Christensen, Jonas Gade, 2011. "Democracy and Expropriations," Working Papers in Economics 06/11, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    10. Mark Schelker, 2009. "Auditor Terms and Term Limits in the Public Sector: Evidence from the US States," CREMA Working Paper Series 2009-19, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    11. 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.
    12. Paola Conconi & Giovanni Facchini & Maurizio Zanardi, 2011. "Policymakers’ Horizon and Trade Reforms," Development Working Papers 311, Centro Studi Luca d'Agliano, University of Milano.

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    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government

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