How do governors' reelection motives affect policy experimentation? We develop a theoretical model of this situation, and then test the predictions in data on US state-level welfare reforms from 1978 to 2007. This period marked the most dramatic shift in social policy since the New Deal. Our findings indicate that governors with strong electoral support are less likely to experiment than governors with little support. Yet, governors who cannot be reelected actually experiment more than governors striving for reelection. These findings are robust to controlling for ideology, preferences for redistribution, the state legislature, and cross-state learning.
Bernecker, Andreas, Pierre C. Boyer, and Christina Gathmann.
"The Role of Electoral Incentives for Policy Innovation: Evidence from the US Welfare Reform."
American Economic Journal: Economic Policy,
Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
State and Local Government: Health; Education; Welfare; Public Pensions
Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty: Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs