Sunsets and Federal Lawmaking: Evidence from the 110th Congress
16 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2014 Last revised: 20 May 2015
Date Written: November 11, 2014
We test the hypothesis that the choice to include a sunset provision increases the likelihood that a bill becomes law. We develop a model where the legislator’s knowledge of the increase in passage probability from including a sunset provision influences the legislator’s choice to do so. Because legislators may either include a sunset provision to increase passage probability, or observe low passage probability and respond with a sunset provision, the choice to include a sunset provision is endogenous. Consequently, the causal effect of temporary enactment is identified by using the legislator’s number of offspring as a source of exogenous variation in the choice to include a sunset provision. Employing recursive bivariate probit, we find that the average causal effect of including a sunset provision is sixty percent. We also find that the average causal effect of including sunset provisions in bills that already include them is about twenty percent.
Keywords: Timing rules, sunset legislation, passage probability, instrumental variables, bivariate probit
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation