Power in text : extracting institutional relationships from natural language



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How do legislators allocate policy-making authority? Generally speaking, institutional design decisions involve a trade-off between efficiency and accountability, as legislators seek to simultaneously maximize bureaucratic effectiveness and ensure favorable policy outcomes. At least in the legal context, these design decisions are often articulated in textual documents (e.g. statutes and constitutions). Unfortunately, existing measurement schemes cannot capture the full range of institutional design technologies available to legislative actors. These limitations have prevented scholars from addressing important questions regarding the relationship between executive/legislative preference conflicts, background institutional context, and downstream design of legislation. In this paper, I develop a text-based measurement scheme intended to address these limitations, which I apply to an original dataset of American legislative texts.