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Effects of Public Opinion on Policy

  • Benjamin I. Page (a1) and Robert Y. Shapiro (a2) (a3)

The responsiveness of government policies to citizens' preferences is a central concern of various normative and empirical theories of democracy. Examining public opinion and policy data for the United States from 1935 to 1979, we find considerable congruence between changes in preferences and in policies, especially for large, stable opinion changes on salient issues. We present evidence that pubic opinion is often a proximate cause of policy, affecting policy more than policy influences opinion. One should be cautious, however, about concluding that democratic responsiveness pervades American politics.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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