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Opinion–Policy Dynamics: Public Preferences and Public Expenditure in the United Kingdom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2005

Department of Political Science, McGill University, Philadelphia
Department of Political Science, Temple University, Philadelphia


Work exploring the relationship between public opinion and public policy over time has largely been restricted to the United States. A wider application of this line of research can provide insights into how representation varies across political systems, however. This article takes a first step in this direction using a new body of data on public opinion and government spending in Britain. The results of analyses reveal that the British public appears to notice and respond (thermostatically) to changes in public spending in particular domains, perhaps even more so than in the United States. They also reveal that British policymakers represent these preferences in spending, though the magnitude and structure of this response is less pronounced and more general. The findings are suggestive about the structuring role of institutions.

Research Article
© 2005 Cambridge University Press

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