The Effect of Legislature Size on Distributive Politics: A Meta-Analysis

Freire, Danilo, Mignozzetti, Umberto, Roman, Catarina and Alptekin, Huzeyfe (2022) The Effect of Legislature Size on Distributive Politics: A Meta-Analysis. British Journal of Political Science . ISSN 0007-1234

Full content URL:

The Effect of Legislature Size on Distributive Politics: A Meta-Analysis
Accepted Manuscript
law-1n-meta-analysis.pdf - Whole Document
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

Item Type:Article
Item Status:Live Archive


In a seminal article, Weingast et al. (1981) argue that there is a positive relationship between legislature size and inefficiency in public expenditures. Their proposition is currently known as the "law of 1/n" and has been widely debated in political science and public administration. However, recent studies have questioned the validity of the theory. In this letter, we conduct the first meta-analysis that assesses the generality of the "law of 1/n". Based on a sample of 30 articles, we find no robust evidence suggesting that legislature size has either a positive or a negative effect on government budgets. Yet the aggregate results mask considerable heterogeneity. Our findings provide moderate support for the "law of 1/n" in unicameral legislatures and in upper houses, but they also indicate that papers using panel/fixed-effects models or regression discontinuity designs report negative public spending estimates. We find only limited evidence that electoral systems impact public spending, which suggests that proportional representation systems may not be more prone to overspending than majoritarian ones.

Keywords:distributive politics, law of 1/n, legislature size, meta-analysis, public spending
Subjects:L Social studies > L150 Political Economics
L Social studies > L231 Public Administration
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:51879
Deposited On:28 Sep 2022 14:56

Repository Staff Only: item control page