Steven Callander and Gregory Martin describe research from their forthcoming American Journal of Political Science article, titled “Dynamic Policymaking with Decay”:
Real politics takes place in a world that is constantly changing. As time passes, the population grows, new technologies are invented, and the skills, demographics, and norms of the populace evolve. Policies that were well-designed and carefully adapted to conditions in the past may be ill-suited to conditions today: to give but one example, consider the catastrophic failure of securities regulations created in an era of stocks and bonds to effectively monitor the market for novel mortgage backed securities and credit default swaps prior to the 2008 financial crisis.
We explore the consequences of this kind of change over time – which we term policy decay – for the practice of politics. Our results show that decay generates a force for legislative action, a force that can be exploited by the current holder of agenda-setting power. We show how a changing world drives the dynamic path of legislation, undermining the conventional wisdom of legislative gridlock. Decay reveals a novel conception of policy expertise, and, ultimately, provides a foundational logic to the design of bureaucracy.
About the Authors: Steven Callander is a Professor of Political Economy, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Gregory J. Martin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Emory University. Their article “Dynamic Policymaking with Decay” is currently available for Early View prior to publication in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.