How does the economy shape policy preferences? Academic Article uri icon


  • How do changes in the economy translate into shifts in aggregate preferences for a more or less activist government in the U.S.-a construct referred to as "policy mood"? Existing theories pose alternative explanations based on either a Maslow Hierarchy of Needs model, where citizens prefer an activist federal government to expand the social safety net when the economic future looks bright (Durr, 1993), or a Phillips Curve model (Erikson etal., 2002), in which the objective economic maladies of inflation and unemployment drive policy mood. We show that neither of these explanations withstands empirical scrutiny when analysis is extended beyond the time period of the original authors' work, suggest the existing wisdom tying the economy to policy mood is wrong, and offer some alternative avenues to pursue in search of an answer to the question: What moves policy mood? © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ferguson, G., Kellstedt, P. M., & Linn, S.

citation count

  • 6

publication date

  • September 2013