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The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

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Ed. by Auriol, Emmanuelle / Barigozzi, Francesca / Brunner, Johann / Fleck, Robert / Mastrobuoni, Giovanni / Mendola, Mariapia / Requate, Till / de Vries, Frans / Wenzel, Tobias / Zulehner, Christine

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Volume 16, Issue 3


Volume 6 (2006)

Volume 4 (2004)

Volume 2 (2002)

Volume 1 (2001)

Legislative Term Limits and Government Spending: Theory and Evidence from the United States

Yasushi Asako
  • Corresponding author
  • Faculty of Political Science and Economics, Waseda University, 1-6-1 Nishi-Waseda, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 169-8050, Japan
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/ Tetsuya Matsubayashi
  • Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University, 1–31 Machikaneyama, Toyonaka, Osaka 560-0043, Japan
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/ Michiko Ueda
  • Department of Political Science, Syracuse University, 100 Eggers Hall, Syracuse, NY 13210, United States of America
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Published Online: 2016-07-02 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2015-0216


What are the fiscal consequences of legislative term limits? To answer this question, we first develop a legislative bargaining model that describes negotiations over the allocation of distributive projects among legislators with different levels of seniority. Building on several predictions from the model, we develop two hypotheses for empirical testing. First, the adoption of term limits that results in a larger reduction in the variance of seniority within a legislature increases the amount of government spending. Second, legislatures that adopt stricter term limits increase the amount of government spending, while legislatures that adopt moderate term limits show no change in the amount. We provide evidence for these hypotheses using panel data for 49 US state legislatures between 1980 and 2010.

Keywords: legislature; seniority; term limits; government spending; elections

JEL Classification: C72; D72; H72


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About the article

Published Online: 2016-07-02

Published in Print: 2016-07-01

Yasushi Asako was supported by JSPS Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research Grant Number 24830095.

Citation Information: The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Volume 16, Issue 3, Pages 1501–1538, ISSN (Online) 1935-1682, ISSN (Print) 2194-6108, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bejeap-2015-0216.

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