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Although basic income has surged in policy interest in recent years, political research has not kept up with the debate in the trenches. In this article, we tackle a political problem any enacting coalition must face: how to ensure the political stability of a basic income over time. We first demonstrate how basic income schemes are particularly vulnerable to processes of policy change discussed in the recent policy feedback literature. We then analyse whether constitutionalising basic income in a Bill of Rights protected by strong judicial review would offer a valuable route for boosting basic income’s stability. A careful examination of the decision-making process within judicial review suggests that, caught up in a dilemma between judicial restraint and judicial activism, an enacting coalition would do well not to rely on constitutional mechanisms as the sole avenue for ensuring the political stability of basic income.
When allocating distributive benefits, bureaucrats must balance their own policy preferences with requests from members of Congress. The elimination of earmarking may provide agency personnel with greater discretion in the allocation of distributive benefits. Using a novel data set of congressional letters written in support of their community’s air traffic control towers, we estimate a model that explores the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to issue national interest exemptions to continue operations at towers slated for closure as a result of budget sequestration. Our analysis suggests that members of Congress do not enjoy the influence they possessed under earmarking when using a new method, letter-marking, to influence how agencies distribute benefits.
This paper examines the capacity of governments to implement fiscal reforms in times of austerity. Unlike existing studies, which mostly focus on gradual policy changes like government spending, this analysis distinguishes between consolidation events and consolidation size to examine fiscal reforms. This strategy clarifies contradictory results in previous research and yields new insights into the underlying mechanism of fiscal reform. Based on an action-based data set that includes information about discretionary changes in taxation and government spending policies from 1978 until 2009 for 16 advanced (OECD) countries, the study shows that left and right governments are equally likely to implement cuts. Strategic considerations play a major role for the timing of fiscal consolidation, as the probability of fiscal cuts is highest at the beginning of the legislative term. When governments reform, the left cut as much as necessary, whereas right governments take the opportunity to reduce spending more.
Research into the detection of fraud and corruption has brought many new insights in recent decades, partly thanks to a decrease in the costs of data collection and processing. However, access to data often remains an issue, especially when fraud or corruption seems to be present. This article applies a simple detection method focussing on possible manipulations in the car registration process in the Czech Republic, where car registration plates are allegedly assigned in random order. As access to official data was denied, we collected data in the field for a random sample of 5,000 cars, and used this to examine the existence of statistical relationships between the cars’ estimated price at registration and their registration plate numbers. The results show that cars with intuitively appealing registration plates are on average significantly more expensive than other cars. Moreover, this price difference corresponds to the relative scarcity of the given type of registration plate number, which could be a sign of discretionary behaviour in the allocation of such plates.
Although new institutionalism has long been criticised for presenting overly static accounts of social reality, that critique is becoming increasingly unwarranted. In recent years, historical, ideational and rational choice institutionalists have produced a rich body of literature on mechanisms and processes of institutional change. This article reviews this emerging literature and concludes that the most promising avenue for future research is to further explore the potential for combining insights from the three subtypes of institutionalism. In the hopes of encouraging future studies of institutional change to engage more explicitly in theoretical integration, this article proposes a sequential approach to combining insights from different traditions and providing comprehensive accounts of exogenous and endogenous processes of institutional change.