Electoral design and voter welfare from the US Senate: Evidence from a dynamic selection model

Gautam Gowrisankaran, Matthew F. Mitchell, Andrea Moro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

Since 1914, the US Senate has been elected and incumbent senators allowed to run for reelection without limit. This differs from several other elected offices in the US, which impose term limits on incumbents. Term limits may harm the electorate if tenure is beneficial or if they force high quality candidates to retire but may also benefit the electorate if they cause higher quality candidates to run. We investigate how changes in electoral design affect voter utility by specifying and structurally estimating a dynamic model of voter decisions. We find that tenure effects for the US Senate are negative or small and that incumbents face weaker challengers than candidates running for open seats. Because of this, term limits can significantly increase voter welfare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalReview of Economic Dynamics
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

Keywords

  • Elections
  • Incumbency advantage
  • Selection
  • Senate
  • Tenure
  • Term limits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics

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