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Term limits and political accountability

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This paper analyses the impact of term limits in a political agency model. We find that term limits reduce the value of holding office. This reduction in the re-election incentive can induce politicians to implement policies that are closer to their own private preferences. Such "truthful" behaviour by incumbents will in turn result in a better screening of incumbents whose preferences do not correspond to voters' preferences. We show that these effects can make a two-term term limit, which is the empirically most frequent restriction on tenure, ex ante welfare improving from the perspective of voters

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