March, 2001

The Cinderella Constraint: Why Regulations Increase Significantly During Post-Election Quarters

  • Jay Cochran

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In this paper, the anecdotal impression is tested that the volume of regulations tends to increase significantly during post-election quarters of presidential election years. This tendency toward "midnight regulations" is found to recur regularly in the volume of published Federal Register pages (a proxy for regulatory volumes) since 1948. In election years with complete executive branch turnover-that is, when the Cinderella constraint binds fully-the model suggests regulatory volumes during the post-election quarter tend to increase 27 percent on average as compared to the same periods in non-election years.