Political Science Publications and Other Works


Does Politics Really Matter?

Document Type


Publication Date



Analyses of the U.S. governing system indicate that national policy is influenced by public opinion, and this is interpreted as representation. Not as much is known aboutwhether policy systematically influences societal outcomes. In fact, some analyses suggest that there is little connection between policies and the outcomes these policies seek to produce. This article seeks to determine whether such a connection exists for income inequality. Although connections should exist, various views of the policymaking process cast doubt on the prospect. Measures of government’s equalizing influence and aggregate policy are created for 1979-1996, and time series regression is used to test the connection between the two. Even in the presence of controls for economic and demographic factors, policy liberalism produces greater government redistribution. When assessed in light of earlier research, these results indicate that shifts in public opinion lead to important changes in the way government influences society.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."