Graduation Year

2016

Date of Submission

4-2016

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE)

Second Department

Economics

Reader 1

William Lincoln

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© 2016 Michael J Irvine

Abstract

Who gets represented in America? How does representation change over time? This thesis attempts to answer both questions, which are necessarily linked to one another. I investigate long-term trends in representation and temporary fluctuations in group influence by using a probit model to examine the link between socioeconomic groups’ policy preferences and outcomes in year-groups roughly corresponding to presidential terms. I find evidence for the suggestion in the literature that American policymaking contains a strong bias in favor of the status quo, but I depart from the literature in finding little evidence for a suggested link between income and political influence. I find evidence of declining policy activity in the 1990s and 2000s relative to the 1980s but little evidence of a long-term trend towards less policy output. In general, I find little evidence of long-term trends in representation, including the idea that our policy outcomes are becoming more correlated with the views of minority groups such as African-Americans and Hispanics.

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