The Consequences of Legislative Term Limits for Policy Diffusion

Susan M. Miller, Jill Nicholson-Crotty, Sean Nicholson-Crotty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Policy diffusion scholarship has long sought to understand when lawmakers will imitate innovations adopted by other jurisdictions and when they actually invest the time and resources necessary to learn about potential policies. We develop the theoretical rationale that term limits will reduce the incentive and capacity of state legislatures to gather information about policies available from previous adoptions in other states. We hypothesize that this will decrease the importance of previous adopters when term-limited legislators consider policy innovations. A multilevel analysis of the diffusion of eighty-seven policies between 1960 and 2009 provides support for this expectation. Our findings provide insight into the way in which institutional features shape policy diffusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)573-585
Number of pages13
JournalPolitical Research Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • policy diffusion
  • state politics
  • term limits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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