Political Science Publications and Other Works


Legislative Productivity of the U.S. Congress, 1789–2004

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We measure legislative productivity for the entire history of the U.S. Congress. Current measures of legislative productivity are problematic because they measure productivity for a limited number of decades and because they are based on different aspects of productivity. We provide a methodology for measuring (1) a Legislative Productivity Index (LPI) and (2) a Major Legislation Index (MLI). We use the W-CALC algorithm of Stimson (1999, Public opinion in America: Moods, cycles, and swings. 2nd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview Press) to combine information from previously used indicators of productivity into measures of the LPI and the MLI. We provide examinations of content, convergent, and construct validity. The construct validity model includes potential determinants of legislative productivity. We conclude that the LPI and the MLI are superior measures of productivity than other measures used in the literature.

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