Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Chambers College of Business and Economics



Committee Chair

Russell S. Sobel.


This dissertation is an examination of the nature and effects of legislative tenure. Specifically, I analyze the role of tenure at the federal level, in the United States Congress. The first chapter provides a background on nature of legislators and the roles that United States Congressmen play in the American economy, the three main questions that this dissertation looks to address, and describes the unique dataset that belies this research. Chapter 2 is an in-depth analysis on the nature of accrued legislative tenure throughout the entire history of the United States Congress. The second chapter then explores possible explanations for the structural break to legislative tenure rates that occurred sometime in the last quarter of the 19th century. Ultimately, while the ability to regulate an economy and the United States Civil War are likely causes, the ability to tax-and-spend did not contribute to the initial upswing in accrued tenure rates. Chapter 3 analyzes the impact of federal spending on state economic performance in light of the variation in tenure between states' Congressional delegations. States that have more tenured delegations secure more federal money for their respective constituencies, and this increased level of federal funds causes a dampening effect upon state economic performance. The result is robust when considering alternative measures of federal spending, such as federal spending received net of federal taxes paid, and the ratio of federal spending received to federal taxes paid. Finally, due to the nature of the two-stage process, I provide a range of estimates for the marginal harm caused by having increasingly tenured Congressional delegations. Chapter 4 investigates the impact that increased tenure, both in absolute amounts and in increased dispersion, has upon legislative productivity. Increased amounts of tenure, as well as increased amounts of tenure dispersion, leads to a reduction in the quantity and an increase in the price of legislation produced. The effects are akin to a cartel. Chapter 5 concludes and discusses future areas of research interest.