Public Policy Investment

I am very pleased to announce that a paper long in progress with Peter John (University College London) has been accepted for publication in the British Journal of Political Science.  An earlier version of the paper was mentioned in this post, but the forthcoming paper can be found here and an abstract as follows:

We set out a theory of political capital investment to explain how democratic governments emphasize specific public policies. Our claim is that governments seek to enhance their chances of re-election by managing their portfolio of public policies in a calculated manner. In this way, government is like an investor making choices about risk to yield return on its investments of political capital. We introduce a quantitative method for assessing risk and return in government policy portfolios. An active investment strategy emerges as an element of statecraft; stability in returns is crucial and governments assume significant risk to maintain it. Do the public reward returns to political capital? Do they punish risky policy investments? How do the returns to policy investmentguide political management and statecraft? We address these questions through time-series analyses of risk and return in the case of Britain between 1971-2000. Our findings reveal that risk and return predict election outcomes and that returns, risk profiles and the uncertainty in public signals influence the prioritisation of policies.  

The paper is part of a larger project that includes a book with Oxford University Press that we expect to complete early this fall and comparative work with  Laura Chaqués and Anna Palau of the Spanish Policy Agendas Project team and others who we will be meeting at the Comparative Policy Agendas conference next week in Reims.  Peter and I will be presenting some results from the project at the upcoming European Political Science Association meetings in Berlin this month.  I will provide more information about the project in future posts that I hope will be of interest.

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