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Daniele Paserman (Boston University)

3 April 2023 @ 12:00 - 13:15


  • Past event


3 April 2023
12:00 - 13:15
Event Category:
Academic Events

“Does Position taking Crowd out Policy Making?” Congressional Capacity and the Quality of Laws

Abstract. We model and evaluate empirically the legislative production incentives of members of Congress, with and without the possibility of cosponsoring legislation drafted by others. Unlimited cosponsorship allows position taking by MCs, who otherwise would do it by proposing their own bills. The excessive bill production caused by position taking incentives, when cosponsorship is not allowed, may increase type 1 and type 2 errors in the legislative process, and Congressional capacity may be reduced with a consequent reduction of the average quality of approved laws. To test these predictions, we exploit a reform in the 96th Congress (1979-1981) that removed a hard cap on the maximum number of cosponsors in the House of Representatives, while the regulations surrounding cosponsorship in the Senate remained unchanged. This allows us to set up a difference-in-differences analysis, comparing the quality of laws originating in the House to those originating in the Senate, before and after the reform. Using a variety of indicators based on text and network of laws, we find that the unlimited cosponsorship reform significantly improved the quality of legislation. The evidence points to a reduction in congestion effects previously affecting Congressional capacity as the most important reason for the many improvements.

Joint with Tommaso Giommoni and Massimo Morelli