, Volume 148, Issue 1-2, pp 119-148
Date: 06 May 2010

Timely shirking: time-dependent monitoring and its effects on legislative behavior in the U.S. Senate

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Abstract

We examine legislative shirking under conditions of imperfect constituent monitoring. Our core argument states that variation in information costs and constituent memory leads to systematic variation in constituent monitoring over time. Assuming that legislators are responsive to multiple cues, we expect to observe time-dependent legislative shirking. We develop a theoretical model of legislative behavior with time-dependent monitoring, which we test empirically using Senate roll call data. Our findings show that a substantial number of senators engage in systematic, time-dependent shirking, and that senators consistently move toward extreme positions when monitoring is low and toward moderate positions when it is high.