Policy Punctuations in American Political Institutions

Bryan D. Jones, Tracy E Sulkin, Heather A. Larsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Political institutions translate inputs - in the form of changed preferences, new participants, new information, or sudden attention to previously available information - into policy outputs. In the process they impose costs on this translation, and these costs increase institutional friction. We argue that the "friction" in political institutions leads not to consistent "gridlock" but to long periods of stasis interspersed with dramatic policy punctuations. As political institutions add costs to the translation of inputs into outputs, institutional friction will increase, and outputs from the process will become increasingly punctuated overall. We use a stochastic process approach to compare the extent of punctuations among 15 data sets that assess change in U.S. government budgets, in a variety of aspects of the public policy process, in election results, and in stock market returns in the United States. We find that all of these distributions display positive kurtosis - tall central peaks (representing considerable stability) and heavy tails (reflecting the punctuations, both positive and negative). When we order institutions according to the costs they impose on collective action, those with higher decision and transaction costs generate more positive kurtosis. Direct parameter estimates indicate that all distributions except budget data were best fit by the double-exponential probability distribution; budgets are Paretian.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-169
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume97
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2003

Fingerprint

political institution
budget
costs
Ministry of State Security (GDR)
election result
stock market
transaction costs
available information
collective behavior
public policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

Cite this

Policy Punctuations in American Political Institutions. / Jones, Bryan D.; Sulkin, Tracy E; Larsen, Heather A.

In: American Political Science Review, Vol. 97, No. 1, 02.2003, p. 151-169.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Jones, Bryan D. ; Sulkin, Tracy E ; Larsen, Heather A. / Policy Punctuations in American Political Institutions. In: American Political Science Review. 2003 ; Vol. 97, No. 1. pp. 151-169.
@article{11e6e4d5838546c0bb964069abf9abba,
title = "Policy Punctuations in American Political Institutions",
abstract = "Political institutions translate inputs - in the form of changed preferences, new participants, new information, or sudden attention to previously available information - into policy outputs. In the process they impose costs on this translation, and these costs increase institutional friction. We argue that the {"}friction{"} in political institutions leads not to consistent {"}gridlock{"} but to long periods of stasis interspersed with dramatic policy punctuations. As political institutions add costs to the translation of inputs into outputs, institutional friction will increase, and outputs from the process will become increasingly punctuated overall. We use a stochastic process approach to compare the extent of punctuations among 15 data sets that assess change in U.S. government budgets, in a variety of aspects of the public policy process, in election results, and in stock market returns in the United States. We find that all of these distributions display positive kurtosis - tall central peaks (representing considerable stability) and heavy tails (reflecting the punctuations, both positive and negative). When we order institutions according to the costs they impose on collective action, those with higher decision and transaction costs generate more positive kurtosis. Direct parameter estimates indicate that all distributions except budget data were best fit by the double-exponential probability distribution; budgets are Paretian.",
author = "Jones, {Bryan D.} and Sulkin, {Tracy E} and Larsen, {Heather A.}",
year = "2003",
month = "2",
doi = "10.1017/S0003055403000583",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "97",
pages = "151--169",
journal = "American Political Science Review",
issn = "0003-0554",
publisher = "Cambridge University Press",
number = "1",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Policy Punctuations in American Political Institutions

AU - Jones, Bryan D.

AU - Sulkin, Tracy E

AU - Larsen, Heather A.

PY - 2003/2

Y1 - 2003/2

N2 - Political institutions translate inputs - in the form of changed preferences, new participants, new information, or sudden attention to previously available information - into policy outputs. In the process they impose costs on this translation, and these costs increase institutional friction. We argue that the "friction" in political institutions leads not to consistent "gridlock" but to long periods of stasis interspersed with dramatic policy punctuations. As political institutions add costs to the translation of inputs into outputs, institutional friction will increase, and outputs from the process will become increasingly punctuated overall. We use a stochastic process approach to compare the extent of punctuations among 15 data sets that assess change in U.S. government budgets, in a variety of aspects of the public policy process, in election results, and in stock market returns in the United States. We find that all of these distributions display positive kurtosis - tall central peaks (representing considerable stability) and heavy tails (reflecting the punctuations, both positive and negative). When we order institutions according to the costs they impose on collective action, those with higher decision and transaction costs generate more positive kurtosis. Direct parameter estimates indicate that all distributions except budget data were best fit by the double-exponential probability distribution; budgets are Paretian.

AB - Political institutions translate inputs - in the form of changed preferences, new participants, new information, or sudden attention to previously available information - into policy outputs. In the process they impose costs on this translation, and these costs increase institutional friction. We argue that the "friction" in political institutions leads not to consistent "gridlock" but to long periods of stasis interspersed with dramatic policy punctuations. As political institutions add costs to the translation of inputs into outputs, institutional friction will increase, and outputs from the process will become increasingly punctuated overall. We use a stochastic process approach to compare the extent of punctuations among 15 data sets that assess change in U.S. government budgets, in a variety of aspects of the public policy process, in election results, and in stock market returns in the United States. We find that all of these distributions display positive kurtosis - tall central peaks (representing considerable stability) and heavy tails (reflecting the punctuations, both positive and negative). When we order institutions according to the costs they impose on collective action, those with higher decision and transaction costs generate more positive kurtosis. Direct parameter estimates indicate that all distributions except budget data were best fit by the double-exponential probability distribution; budgets are Paretian.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0037307910&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0037307910&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1017/S0003055403000583

DO - 10.1017/S0003055403000583

M3 - Review article

AN - SCOPUS:0037307910

VL - 97

SP - 151

EP - 169

JO - American Political Science Review

JF - American Political Science Review

SN - 0003-0554

IS - 1

ER -