Constituency Influences on Legislative Policy Choice

McCubbins, Mathew D.; Sullivan, Terry
August 1984
Quality & Quantity;Aug84, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p299
Academic Journal
This paper presents a simple formal model of policy choice which addresses these paradoxes. While motivated by these paradoxes, however, the model developed is a general model of policy choice, built upon fairly common assumptions concerning the incentives and political institutions facing policy makers. Implicit in this approach is an intriguing counter-intuitive proposition: that parties and politicians will not seek to compete for the votes of independents, but rather will focus the bulk of their attention on their loyal party identifiers. The existing theories of policy choice focus upon the choice of policy and the net benefits delivered by this policy to a legislator's district. In contrast, this paper focuses upon the form that the policy intervention takes. The form of a policy consists of the administrative mechanisms used to administer the policy, the policy instrument used to implement the policy, and the administrative procedures by which agency decisions will be made. In large part, the choice of public policy is a legislative choice. It is the aggregation of individual decisions made in a particular institutional setting. The motivations and incentives which influence the decisions of legislators are, therefore, of central importance to a model of policy choice.


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