Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Maloney, Michael T

Committee Member

Sauer , Raymond

Committee Member

Tollison , Robert D.

Committee Member

Warner , John T.


Abstract: Sunset laws are laws designed to limit the size of state government by providing a process whereby statutorily created programs, agencies and bureaus are reviewed cyclically and their effectiveness assessed. Possible sunset results include continuation of the status quo, a reorganization or consolidation with other state agencies or agency termination. These programs exist in 30 states and use four distinct approaches, reflecting the confusion associated with the purpose and effects of such programs. This paper utilizes state expenditure and employment data to isolate the effects of sunset laws in general and the effects of each of the four different versions of these laws. I find that states that utilize sunset programs reduce spending at the state level, while increasing the level of government services provided. This increase in the efficiency of providing government services appears to be from the oversight of bureaucrats by the legislature, rather than from closures of obsolete agencies, and is therefore most strongly associated with comprehensive sunset programs, which conduct a greater volume of reviews.

Included in

Economics Commons



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