A Sequential Choice Theory Perspective on Legislative Organization

A Sequential Choice Theory Perspective on Legislative Organization

1993Working Paper No. 1273

This essay presents a sequential choice theory perspective on legislative organization as an alternative to social choice-based theories. Because of the sequential process of proposal-making and voting, sequential choice theory yields equilibrium predicitions for both particularistic goods programs and unidimensional and multidimensional collective goods programs. The theory thus does not require legislative organization and procedures to yield stability. Although a formal theory of the choice of legislative organization is not presented, sequential choice theory allows an assessment of collective and individualistic incentives for the choice of legislative organization and procedures. For example, the legislature has collective incentives to control individualistic incentives and can do so by allowing amendments to committee proposals. Sequential choice theory also addresses the durability issue resulting from a present legislature's inability to bind future legislatures. In the theory legislators strategically position programs to limit future changes.