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Seniority in Legislatures

McKelvey, Richard D. and Reizman, Raymond G. (1990) Seniority in Legislatures. Social Science Working Paper, 725. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

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We construct a stochastic game model of a legislature with an endogenously determined seniority system. We model the behavior of the legislators as well as their constituents in an infinitely repeated divide the dollar game. Each legislative session must make a decision on redistributional issues, modeled as a divide the dollar game. However, each session begins with a vote in which the legislators decide, by majority rule, whether or not to impose on themselves a seniority system. Legislative decisions on the redistributional issues are made by the Baron-Ferejohn rule: an agenda setter is selected by a random recognition rule (which in our model is a function of the seniority system selected), the agenda setter makes a proposal on redistributional issues, and the legislature then votes whether to accept or reject the agenda setters proposal. If the legislature rejects the proposal, another agenda setter is randomly selected, and the process is repeated. If the legislature accepts the proposal, the legislative session ends, and the voters in each legislative district vote whether to retain their legislator or throw it out of office. The voters' verdict determines the seniority structure of the next period legislature. We find a stationary equilibrium to the game having the property that the legislature imposes on itself a non trivial seniority system, and that legislators are always reelected.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
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Additional Information:This paper was funded, in part by NSF Grant #SES-864348 to the California Institute of Technology. We thank Ken Shepsle for useful comments on an earlier draft.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:Seniority, Legislators, Voting, Legislatures, Nash equilibrium, Incumbents, Voting behavior, Stochastic games, Legislative districts
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:725
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170901-140827674
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81088
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:05 Sep 2017 23:49
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:38

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