AMERICAN POLITICS & PUBLIC POLICY WORKSHOP: Sarah Anzia (UC Berkeley), “Do Politicians Use Policy to Make Politics? The Case of Public Sector Labor Laws”

Event time: 
Wednesday, February 17, 2016 - 5:00pm through 6:15pm
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“Do Politicians Use Policy to Make Politics? The Case of Public Sector Labor Laws”

Sarah Anzia, Michelle J. Schwartz Assistant Professor of Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Abstract: Schattschneider’s insight that “policies make politics” has played an influential role in the modern study of political institutions and public policy. Yet if policies do indeed make politics, rational politicians clearly have opportunities to use policies to create a future structure of politics more to their own advantage—and this strategic dimension has gone almost entirely unexplored. Do politicians actually use policies to make politics? Under what conditions? In this paper, we develop a theoretical argument about what can be expected from strategic politicians, and we carry out an empirical analysis on a policy development that is particularly instructive: the adoption of public sector collective bargaining laws by the states during the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s—laws that fueled the rise of public sector unions, and “made politics” to the great advantage of Democrats over Republicans.

Bio: Sarah Anzia is a political scientist who studies American politics with a focus on state and local government, elections, interest groups, political parties, and public policy. Her recent book, Timing and Turnout: How Off-Cycle Elections Favor Organized Groups, examines how the timing of elections can be manipulated to affect both voter turnout and the composition of the electorate, which, in turn, affects election outcomes and public policy. She also studies the role of government employees and public sector unions in elections and policymaking in the U.S. In addition, she has written about the politics of public pensions, women in politics, the historical development of electoral institutions, and the power of political party leaders in state legislatures.

Sponsored jointly by ISPS and CSAP

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