- Congressional Careers, Committee Assignments, and Seniority Randomization in the U.S. House of Representatives
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- by Shepsle, Kenneth A.; Kellermann, Michael
- We consider the effects of the initial assignments of committee seniority on the career outcomes of Democratic members of the House of Representatives from 1949 to 2006. When more than one freshman representative is assigned to a committee, positions in the seniority queue are established
by lottery. This ensures that, within these groups of freshmen, queue positions are uncorrelated with other legislator characteristics. This natural experiment allows us to estimate the causal effect of seniority on a variety
of outcomes. We find that lower ranked committee members are less likely to serve as subcommittee chairs on their initial committee, are more likely to transfer to other committees than members who receive higher ranks, and have fewer sponsored bills passed in the jurisdiction of their initial committee. On the other hand, we find little evidence that the results of the seniority randomization have a net effect on reelection, the total length of time the members serve in the House, or the total number of sponsored bills passed during their tenure.
- Publication Type: WCFIA Working Paper
- Published Date: August 14, 2007
- Field of Interest: Comparative Politics
- Shepsle, Kenneth A., and Michael Kellermann. "Congressional Careers, Committee Assignments, and Seniority Randomization in the U.S. House of Representatives." Working Paper 2008-0112, Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University, August 14, 2007.