Faculty & Research

Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy Working Papers Series

Batten faculty may post their working papers as PDFs until they are published. Once published, the work and its complete citation can be found in Publications.

2015--01. Spatial Models of Legislative Effectiveness (Craig Volden)

Spatial models of policymaking have evolved from the median voter theorem through the inclusion of institutional considerations such as political parties, committees, and various voting and amendment rules. Such models, however, implicitly assume that no policy is more effective than another at solving public policy problems and that all proposers are equally capable of advancing proposals. We relax these assumptions by modeling proposal “quality” and the effort needed to make better proposals. The resulting Legislative Effectiveness Model (LEM) offers three main benefits.

2014--004. Experimental Evidence on Early Intervention: The Impact of Full-day Kindergarten (Chloe GIbbs)

Nearly all school-age children in the United States attend kindergarten, and approximately three-quarters of kindergarten students are in full-day classrooms. While there have been dramatic increases in provision of and participation in full-day kindergarten, there is little evidence on the impact and cost-effectiveness of such programs and policies, particularly as compared to other types of investments in early childhood.

2014--003. Keep the Kids Inside: Juvenile Curfews, Bad Weather, and Urban Gun Violence (Jennifer Doleac)

Gun violence is an important problem in many American cities, large and small. Due to limited data, it has been difficult to convincingly test the impacts of government policies on the quantity and geography of gunfire. This paper is the first to use a new source of data on gunfire incidents, and tests the incapacitation effects of two interventions in Washington, DC: (1) juvenile curfews, and (2) rain. Both work primarily by keeping would-be offenders indoors.

2014--002. Can Congress Do Policy Analysis? The Politics of Problem Solving on Capitol Hill (Eric Patashnik)

The conventional wisdom is that the U.S. Congress is not well-structured to do policy analysis. According to the received view, Congress's internal organization is inconsistent with analytical perceptions and definitions of policy issues. Congress caters to the demands of interest groups, and regularly makes economic decisions that policy analysts find indefensible on efficiency grounds. But negative assessments of Congress's capacity as a policy analyst cut too deeply.

2014--001. Alleviating Poverty through Housing Policy Reform (Edgar Olsen)

The purpose of this paper is to describe proposals for reform of low-income housing assistance that will alleviate poverty without increasing public spending. Low-income housing assistance is fertile ground for such reforms. The majority of current recipients are served by programs whose cost is enormously excessive for the housing provided. Phasing out these programs in favor of the system’s most cost-effective program would ultimately free up the resources to provide housing assistance to millions of additional people (Olsen 2014).

2013--014. The Effect of Fundamental Housing Policy Reforms on Program Participation (Edgar Olsen)

This paper estimates the effects of alternative reforms of the current system of low-income housing assistance on the number of people of various types who would receive assistance. The reforms are designed to eliminate the system’s substantial inefficiencies, inequities, and bias against homeownership. All would replace HUD’s largest low-income housing programs with alternative tenure-neutral housing voucher programs that serve all eligible families that apply for assistance. Most cost less than the current system.

2013--013. Child and Orphan Poverty in Swaziland (Jeanine Braithwaite)

This report quantifies child and orphan poverty in the Kingdom of Swaziland during 2001 and 2010. Poverty is understood as consumption (monetary) poverty and not asmultidimensional deprivation. Child and orphan poverty indicators are based on the Swaziland Household Income and Expenditures Survey (SHIES). Additional indicators for teen-aged men and women are calculated from the Multiple Cluster Indicator Survey (MICS). Secondary literature is also addressed. Child poverty and teen-age indicators have not been previously undertaken.

2013-012. Recessions, Healthy No More? (Christopher Ruhm)

Using data from multiple sources, over the 1976-2010 period, I show that total mortality has shifted from strongly procyclical to being only weakly related or unrelated to macroeconomic conditions. The association also shows some temporal instability and is likely to be poorly measured when using short (less than 15 or 20 year) analysis periods. The secular change in the association between macroeconomic conditions and overall mortality primarily reflects trends in effects for specific causes of death, rather than changes in the composition of total mortality across causes.

2013-011. Women's Issues and Their Fates in Congress (Craig Volden)

Significant scholarship indicates that female legislators focus their attention on “women’s issues” to a greater extent than do male lawmakers.  Yet, women’s issues have thus far been largely selected by scholars ex ante, often without comparison to other issues.  We instead define women’s issues in terms of those sponsored at a greater rate by women in Congress over a thirty-year period.  This analysis reveals that most (but not all) of the classically considered women’s issues are indeed raised at an enhanced rate by congresswomen.  We then track the fate of those issues, demonst

2013-010. Learning and Policy Diffusion: Experimental Evidence (Craig Volden)

We introduce experimental research design to the study of policy diffusion in order to better understand the micro-foundations of when and why policymakers seek to learn from one another’s experiences. Our two experiments, embedded in national surveys of U.S. municipal officials, expose local policymakers to vignettes describing the zoning and home foreclosure policies of other cities, and offer them an opportunity to learn more.