Shepsle and Weingast Corpus, Including Three Unpublished Papers from 1980-1981

Shepsle and Weingast on the Theory of Legislative Choice

In the early 1980s, Ken Shepsle and I wrote a dozen or so papers that helped develop a new way of thinking about how legislatures make policy decisions. A critical feature of these models is how institutions assign authority over the agenda, the process that determines who can make proposes and when.

The purpose of this webpage is two-fold. First, to list all the papers in this corpus; and second, to make available three of our early but unpublished papers.

Almost all of these papers were written while we were Research Associates at Murray Weidenbaum’s Center for the Study of American Business, at Washington University in St. Louis. We gratefully acknowledge this support.


(1) The Corpus Includes the Following Published Papers

  • “Structure-Induced Equilibrium and Legislative Choice,” Public Choice 37 (1981), pp. 503-19.
    • Reprinted in Charles K. Rowley, ed., Public Choice Theory. Vol. II. (Edward Elgar Publishing, 1993);
    • Reprinted in Claude Menard, ed., The International Library of the New Institutional Economics. vol 1. (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2004)
  • “Political Preferences for the Pork Barrel: A Generalization,” American Journal of Political Science 26 (February 1981), pp. 86-111.
  • “The Political Economy of Benefits and Costs: A Neoclassical Approach to Distributive Politics,” (with Christopher Johnsen). Journal of Political Economy 89 (August 1981), pp. 642-664.
    • Comment by G. Tullock, Journal of Political Economy 90(4): 824-26.
    • Reprinted in Torsten Persson and Guido Tabellini, eds., Monetary and Fiscal Policy. (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1994).
    • Reprinted in Dewan, Torun, Keith Dowding and Kenneth A. Shepsle, eds., Rational Choice Politics. (London: Sage, 2009).
  • “Institutionalizing Majority Rule: A Social Choice Theory with Policy Implications,” American Economic Review 72 (May 1982), pp. 367-71.
  • “Uncovered Sets and Sophisticated Voting Outcomes with Implications for Agenda Institutions,” American Journal of Political Science 29 (February 1984), pp. 49-74.
  • “When Do Rules of Procedure Matter?” Journal of Politics 46 (February 1984), pp. 206-221.
  • “Political Solutions to Market Problems,” American Political Science Review 78 (June 1984), pp. 417-34.
  • “Legislative Politics and Budgetary Outcomes,” in Gregory B. Mills and John L. Palmer (eds.), Federal Budget Policy in the 1980s (Washington, D.C.: Urban Institute, 1984), pp. 343-57.
  • “Policy Consequences of Government by Subcommittee,” in Lowell Harriss (ed.), Control of Federal Spending (New York: Academy of Political Science, 1985), pp. 114-131.
  • “The Institutional Foundations Of Committee Power,” American Political Science Review 81 (March 1987), pp. 85-194.
    • Reprinted in Charles K. Rowley, ed., Public Choice Theory. Vol. II. (Edward Elgar, Publishing, 1993);
    • Reprinted in Philip Norton, ed., Legislature and Legislators. (Ashgate Publishing, 1998);
    • Reprinted in Steven S. Smith, Jason M. Roberts, and Ryan J. Vander Wielen, eds., The American Congress Reader, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008).
    • Comment by Keith Krehbiel, “Controversies,” American Political Science Review 81 (September 1987), pp 929-35.
    • Reply: “Reflections on Committee Power,” “Controversies,” American Political Science Review 81 (September 1987), pp. 935-45.
  • “Penultimate Power: Conference Committees and the Legislation Process,” in Morris P. Fiorina and David H. Rohde (eds.), Home Style and Washington Work: Studies of Congressional Politics (University of Michigan Press, 1989), pp. 199-217.
  • “Positive Theories of Congressional Institutions,” Legislative Studies Quarterly (May, 1994) 19: 149-79.
    • Reprinted in Kenneth A. Shepsle and Barry R. Weingast, eds., Positive Theories of Congressional Institutions. University of Michigan Press. 1995.
  • “Why So Much Stability?: Majority Voting, Legislative Institutions, and Gordon Tullock,” Public Choice (2012) 152 (1-2): 83-95.


(2) The Following Papers Fit in This Corpus, But Were Not Collaborative Efforts

  • Shepsle, Kenneth A. 1979. “Institutional Arrangements and Equilibrium in Multidimensional Voting Models,” American Journal of Political Science 23: 23-57.
  • Weingast, Barry R. 1981. “Regulation, Reregulation, and Deregulation: The Political Foundations of Agency-Clientele Relationships,” Law and Contemporary Problems 44 (Winter), pp. 147-177.
  • Weingast, Barry R. and Mark J. Moran. 1983. “Bureaucratic Discretion or Congressional Control: Regulatory Policymaking by the FTC,” Journal of Political Economy 91 (October 1983), pp. 765-800.


(3) Three Early Unpublished Papers from This Corpus (which, but for Circumstances, May Well Have Been Published)

This first paper is a companion piece to Weingast, Shepsle, and Johnsen (1981), listed above. It presents a range of ideas that generalize or complement those in the published paper.

The second half of this long paper was published as Shepsle and Weingast, “Uncovered sets …” (1984). Unfortunately, we never published the first half; it demonstrates the existence of structure-induced equilibria, a question then in doubt, though no longer so.

Some early philosophical thoughts about advantages and limits of rational choice theory.