Publication Date


Document Type



The quality of representation the citizenry receives from its political leaders is central to evaluating the character of any democratic institution. Moreover, the number of elected members that comprise an institution can be vital in determining whether citizens have access to and can influence the decisions of their representatives (Dahl and Tufte 1973). The United States House of Representatives has been frozen at 435 members for almost a century. This durability of this alignment is astonishing; in its first century of existence, the U.S. House experienced a virtually uninterrupted string of decennial increases in its membership. Despite the magnitude of the effects of this stasis on representation, political scientists have not extensively examined this subject (Squire and Hamm 2005). While the House has remained constant in size for nearly 100 years, the nation's population has grown by more than 200% over this duration. Members of the House on average represent more than 600,000 citizens; a figure that increases with population growth as long as the size of the body remains constant. This development has sparked a debate among some observers about whether it is time to increase the size of the House of Representatives.

Original Citation

Frederick B. (2008). The people's perspective on the size of the people's house. PS - Political Science and Politics, 41(2), 329-335.