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Paying Attention to Politics. Public Responsiveness and Welfare Policy Change.

Artikel i vetenskaplig tidskrift
Författare Anna Bendz
Publicerad i Policy Studies Journal
Volym 43
Nummer/häfte 3
Sidor 309-332
ISSN 0190-292X
Publiceringsår 2015
Publicerad vid Statsvetenskapliga institutionen
Sidor 309-332
Språk en
Länkar dx.doi.org/10.1111/psj.12098
Ämnesord Welfare policy, policy feedback, thermostatic model, primary health care
Ämneskategorier Statsvetenskap (exklusive studier av offentlig förvaltning och globaliseringsstudier)

Sammanfattning

In order for the democratic process to work properly, it is vital that the public pays attention to politics and signals its opinions and preferences back to its representatives; if this is not the case, representatives have less incentive to represent. This article deals with the question of whether and how the public responds to welfare policy change. The thermostatic model departs from the assumption that the public responds to policy change with negative feedback, in relation to its preferred level of policy. The empirical analysis tests this model on public responses following the implementation of a consumer’s choice model in Swedish primary health care. Did the reform trigger a thermostatic response from the public, and how should this be interpreted? A contribution in relation to previous research is the inclusion of ideological orientation and proximity, variables which, I argue, condition the nature and direction of public responsiveness. The study was designed as a natural experiment in which preferences of privatization of health care were measured before and after the health care reform of 2009/2010. The results provide partial support for the thermostatic model: preferences for further privatization decrease after the reform, but primarily within one subgroup. Additionally, public responses are demonstrated to vary according to ideological orientation, where the right-oriented react thermostatically and the left-oriented do not. The article contributes to a further understanding of the relation between policy making and public opinion and to the expansion of thermostatic theory.

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