Public-Sector Unions and the Size of Government

AJPS Author Summary by Agustina S. PaglayanPaglayan.jpg

Liberals and conservatives in the U.S. seem to agree on at least one thing: collective bargaining with public-sector unions leads to increases in public spending—which liberals think is good, and conservatives bad. This article challenges the widespread conventional wisdom about collective bargaining. It shows that the introduction of collective bargaining rights for teachers in the 1960s and 70s led to higher public spending on education only in states where teachers could credibly threaten to go on strike; but it shows also that, in most states where teachers were given the legal right to engage in collective bargaining, these rights came bundled with provisions that made it more difficult for teachers to resort to strikes as a weapon during collective negotiations. As a result, on average, the introduction of mandatory collective bargaining with teachers did not lead to increases in the level of resources devoted to education. When collective bargaining did increase education spending, the magnitude of the effect was small and cannot explain the bulk of the differences in education spending levels that exist across states today. In fact, most of these differences in spending precede the formation of modern teacher unions.

The findings of this study are at odds with the conventional wisdom because of two major improvements over prior research. First, this study pays attention to the political history behind the emergence of collective bargaining rights for public employees, showing that these rights were not introduced by an unambiguously pro-labor coalition, and that they were often accompanied by anti-labor provisions. In the U.S., public employees gained the right to engage in collective bargaining in the 1960s and 70s. By 1990, 33 states had ended long-standing prohibitions on teachers’ collective bargaining, instead establishing that school districts had an obligation to bargain with teacher unions. The introduction of these mandatory collective bargaining state laws led to a rapid increase in teacher unionization rates, which climbed from 6% in the late 1950s to 60% in the early 80s. It is common to assume that these were pro-labor laws introduced by pro-labor politicians, but a look at history shows these assumptions are wrong. The laws were shaped by counterbalancing interests with ample support from both Democrats and Republicans, and represented a mixed change in unions’ power. Yes, they gave unions collective bargaining rights, but they also introduced costly strike penalties designed deliberately to deter striking. Lawmakers realized that threatening to dismiss striking teachers was not effective to dissuade them from striking, because teachers knew that no politician wanting to ensure the smooth provision of public education would dare fire everyone who went on strike. Instead, to prevent strikes, most mandatory collective bargaining laws established strike penalties that could be enforced. If they went on strike, union members could lose two days of pay for every day on strike, the union could be heavily fined, decertified, and/or no longer enjoy automatic deduction of union dues from districts’ payroll. With striking capacity curtailed, collective bargaining did not have the bite to increase resources for education.

The second feature that sets this study apart from previous research is the data and methods it uses to quantify the effect of mandatory collective bargaining laws on the size of government. The study uses a new and publicly-available dataset that tracks the evolution of teacher salaries, student-teacher ratios, per-pupil education spending, and per-pupil non-wage education spending (including employer contributions to pensions, administrative costs, etc.) in all 50 states in the U.S. from 1919 on. This unprecedented breadth of data on public education in the U.S. confirms, as lay observers often note, that governments that engage in collective bargaining tend to pay higher salaries and spend more than those that don’t; but it also shows that collective bargaining is not the reason why they spend more. In 1919, when there was no collective bargaining with teachers anywhere, the states that would later introduce collective bargaining rights for teachers were already devoting considerably more resources to education than states that would not. On average, these historical differences in spending did not become wider after collective bargaining rights were introduced by some states but not others.

The evidence presented in this article revises our understanding of what public-sector unions do and where their power stems from. It highlights that, in most U.S. states, public-sector unions remain considerably constrained in their ability to exert pressure through collective bargaining, either because they don’t have the right to bargain to begin with, or because they have collective bargaining rights but not the ability to strike.

Liberals and conservatives may still have thoughts about public-sector collective bargaining. But the article sets the record straight: whether they support it or oppose it, their position cannot be based on the belief that collective bargaining rights per se lead to higher public spending.

About the Author: Agustina S. Paglayan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and School of Global Policy and Strategy at University of California San Diego. Paglayan’s article “Public‐Sector Unions and the Size of Government (https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12388)” is now available online in Early View and will be published in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

All Male Panels Erode Citizens’ Perceptions of Democratic Legitimacy

Author Summary of “All Male Panels? Representation and Democratic Legitimacy” by Amanda Clayton, Diana Z. O’Brien, Jennifer M. Piscopo

All Male Panels Erode Citizens' Perceptions of Democratic LegitimacyAll-male panels increasingly face public scorn, especially when their topic addresses matters connected to women’s experiences. Backlash against all-male panels suggests that women’s presence matters for citizens. Our research explains whether, when, and for whom the makeup of political institutions affects perceptions of democratic legitimacy.

We asked a representative sample of Americans to read a hypothetical newspaper article about an eight-member state legislative committee evaluating sexual harassment policies. Our experimental design varied both the gender makeup of the panel (all-male vs. gender-balanced) and the decision reached (increasing or decreasing penalties for those found guilty of harassment).

We asked respondents their feelings about the legitimacy of the decision itself (what we term substantive legitimacy), as well as their attitudes towards the decision-making process, willingness to acquiesce to the decision, and trust in the political institutions that made the decision (what we term procedural legitimacy).

We find that citizens, both men and women, strongly prefer gender-balanced decision-making bodies. At the same time, we also show important differences related to the decision reached and respondent gender.

Regarding the legitimacy of the decision itself, we find that aversion towards male-only panels is observed only when the committee rolls back women’s rights. Further, men respondents in particular respond especially positively to women’s presence when the all-male panel makes a decision that harms women. Yet, changing from an all-male to a gender-balanced panel does not affect the perceived legitimacy of decisions that expand women’s rights, for either men or women respondents.

Moving to the legitimacy of decision-making procedures, we find that citizens view decision-making as more legitimate when women are present. This finding holds for both men and women, no matter the decision reached. Even in cases in which all-male panels advance feminist policies, citizens report lower average levels of procedural fairness, institutional trust, and acquiescence as compared to the gender-balanced panel.

Our findings hold across citizens’ party identification, indicating that both Republicans and Democrats prefer gender-balanced panels.

Importantly, our results concerning the legitimacy of decision-making procedures also hold in policy areas that do not affect women’s rights. A separate group of respondents saw a news story in which an all-male or gender-balanced panel could raise or lower penalties for the mistreatment of farm animals. In this experiment, women’s presence does not affect attitudes about the substance of the decision. Yet, respondents report higher average levels of perceived fairness, institutional trust, and acquiescence when the decision is made by a gender-balanced panel. Again, citizens prefer inclusion.

Our findings demonstrate the profound importance of inclusion. Women’s presence in elected office is necessary in order for political institutions to be seen as wholly legitimate. Women’s descriptive representation matters across policy areas, and even when decisions expand women’s rights. Politicians should recognize that opprobrium against all-male panels is not just a social media trend, but a genuine grievance. Having only men as policymakers erodes citizens’ beliefs in the democratic legitimacy of their political institutions.

About the Authors: Amanda Clayton is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Vanderbilt University, Diana Z. O’Brien is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Texas A&M University, and Jennifer M. Piscopo is Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics at Occidental College. “All Male Panels? Representation and Democratic Legitimacy (https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12391)” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

 

Peer Review Week at AJPS: Better Late than Never (Just like Reviews!)

By the AJPS Editorial Team

Who knew that September 10-15 was “Peer Review Week,” a celebration held in honor of the essential role of peer review in the academy and scholarly publications? We didn’t, until the week-long celebration was nearly over. Nonetheless, we made it a memorable week on the AJPS reviewer front by updating the “reviewer guidelines” at www.ajps.org. Please take a quick look at those details before submitting your next review.

Here, we offer some additional thoughts about doing reviews. Doing reviews often feels like a thankless task, one that takes time away from the more pressing matters in academic life. But we are keenly aware that, without able and willing reviewers, the entire peer-review enterprise would collapse. While some of these comments reflect our take on reviews and reviewing, we suspect that they might be shared by other editors in the discipline.

Why should I review? Participating in the peer review of research articles contributes to your scholarly community. It is a way to keep abreast of new ideas and new approaches. It offers an opportunity to use the expertise you’ve developed, via years of study and authoring papers, to advance our collective knowledge. And if the collective, altruistic view of reviewing doesn’t strike a chord, then how about this: it’s a great way to learn something—about substance, method or writing, to name a few.

For whom should I review? Many of us receive more review requests than we could ever accept, and sometimes from journals that seem a bit outside of our usual purview. Review for the journals where you want to publish, and for the journals you regularly read. Reviewing for and publishing in more general journals allows you to have a voice in the leading scholarship in your field. And whatever the impact factor, reviewing for more specialized journals usually shifts the focus to greater in-depth material and may benefit your own work even more.

How many reviews should I do? People sometimes don’t have a sense of how often they should review. Often Editorial Board members are expected to review more than others; we try to not ask for reviews from others more than a couple times a year. But it varies a lot, both here at AJPS and at other journals, and we as a discipline don’t coordinate on counting up the number of reviews across journals (although Publons may help a tiny bit with this). Data on the peer review process suggests that the burden of reviewing is unevenly distributed. In fact, one reason reviewers decline our invitations is that our “ask” has arrived when the potential reviewer already has committed to reviewing multiple papers, and they can’t add ours to the list.

Some editors like to remind their colleagues that, if they are getting three reviews every time they submit a piece, then they need to be doing three times their number of journal submissions/re-submissions in a given year. At AJPS, we now ask anyone who submits an article to commit to doing two reviews during the coming year. We appreciate that review requests sometimes come at inopportune times (whether or not you have other review commitments in line ahead of AJPS). In other cases, potential reviewers do not feel as expert as they might like. We (and most) editors appreciate why reviewers may need to decline in these situations. But every editor loves it when a declined reviewer invitation is accompanied by suggestions of potential alternate reviewers. Our reviewer database is a work in progress, and we certainly do not know people in every nook and cranny of the profession. Adding new reviewers to our database is critical to the editorial process, so making reviewer recommendations is incredibly helpful. You might also think of making recommendations as an opportunity to share the love with your friends, colleagues, and co-authors!

Why was I invited to review? The peer review process is one that is premised on expertise: you are invited to review because the editors believe you have the expertise to evaluate the argument, claims, and methods used in the paper. That said, you may not be an expert on every aspect, and do not need to address each of these aspects. You can focus your comments on the issues you believe to be most important as a basis for making a recommendation. Often editors will invite reviewers who have published research on similar—but not the same exact—questions to provide some diversity across reviewers. This is especially true at less specialized journals, where editors might want to know what scholars in the same subfield—but with different research expertise—think about the paper’s argument, importance, or potential (broader) impact.

What if I know who the author is? Convey this information to the editorial office immediately. It is helpful to explain for how long, and in what capacity, you have known the author and how you know the paper. Some editors will immediately release you from the review invitation (and appreciate being able to do this); others will judge whether the circumstances are sufficiently compromising that they need to find another reviewer. Or the editors may ask the invited reviewer to complete the review if they feel that they can offer an unbiased, serious review independent of knowing the author’s identity.

What if I’ve reviewed the manuscript for another journal? Convey this information to the editorial office as well. Many editors will leave the decision up to the reviewer; some will release you from the review. The basic principle here is that the reviewer and editor should be in agreement as to whether doing the review is the right thing.

What should I include in the review? Many journals will describe what they want in a review when they invite you, or post these details on the journal’s website. Oftentimes this comes in a series of questions that might structure the review: what is the paper’s theoretical motivation? Its theoretical or empirical contribution? Is the method appropriate to question? How persuasive is the empirical evidence? Is the author’s interpretation of the evidence accurate? Is it appropriate? What are the paper’s strength and weaknesses? Can the weaknesses be addressed? While providing a summary of the paper (from a few sentences to a lengthier paragraph) can help set the stage for the review, the more important details are your answers to the questions posed by the editors.

In addition, if you are really impressed by a paper, please tell us why. Sometimes reviewers are quicker to criticize than to praise. While we understand (and often share) that urge, keep in mind that we are seeking reasons to accept or advance a piece, as well as reasons to decline it. If you love a manuscript, don’t be afraid to advocate for it. You may find this piece, written by Sara Mitchell (an AJPS Editorial Board member) to be useful.

Will the editor follow my recommendation? Sometimes they will; sometimes they won’t. At most journals, reviews are advisory to the editor. And it is important to remember that, regardless of the time invested in the review, the editor has more information than what any single reviewer has. She knows who the members of the review panel are and what their review histories are (some reviewers inflate their grades, whereas others do not!). She also often receives private “to the editor” comments from reviewers, which sometimes emphasize certain points made in the review. Moreover, the editor sees reviews for dozens or even hundreds of manuscripts per year. While each manuscript decision is dependent on the reviews that are submitted, the editors have some experience to assess what good and bad reviews look like; and what a reasonable amount of work for a revision would be.

With all that said… We now declare this week as Peer Review Week at AJPS! So send in those reviews (early, late or on deadline). And take a few minutes to update your contact details and research interests in our Editorial Manager database, so that we know how (and for what) to invite you to review. If you do not have an existing Editorial Manager profile and want to review, begin one—and send along your C.V. to the editorial office at ajps@mpsanet.org so we can learn more.

Making Bureaucracy Work: Patronage Networks, Performance Incentives, and Economic Development in China

AJPS Author Summary by Junyan Jiang

Patron-client networks are widely found in governments of transitional societies. Most researchers view them as a threat to government performance. In this article, I advance an alternative view that emphasizes the positive roles of patron-client networks in political organizations. I argue that, by fostering mutual trust and raising the value of long-term cooperation, these informal relations can help align the interests between government agents and their principals, and discourage short-term, opportunistic behaviors. When formal incentive schemes are weak or incomplete, these personal ties can serve as an alternative mechanism for principals to mobilize agents to accomplish important but challenging governing tasks.

Making Bureaucracy Work: Patronage Networks, Performance Incentives, and Economic Development in China

My empirical analysis focuses on China, a country where the practice of political patronage is both long-standing and pervasive. I build a new database consisting of fully digitized resumes for over 4,000 city, provincial, and central officials, and develop a new strategy that infers patron-client ties by linking lower-level officials with senior leaders who promoted them at critical career junctures. Exploiting variations in connections between cities and provinces induced by the constant reshuffling of officials at both levels, I find those city leaders with informal ties to the incumbent provincial secretary, the de facto leader of a province, deliver significantly better economic performance than those whose patrons have either retired or left the province. The performance premium of connected agents is estimated to be about 275 million yuan (~42 million U.S dollars) per year for an average city.

I address several alternative explanations, such as clients’ greater propensity to falsify data, distributive favoritism, and heterogeneity in personal or career backgrounds. While all three are plausible explanations for the observed performance premium, the empirical results suggest that they are not the main causal channels through which connection affects performance. I also provide additional direct and indirect evidence on the incentive-enhancing role of connections, drawing on several other data sources.

Findings from this study contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between states’ organizational characteristics and governance outcomes. While the prevailing view in the literature is that effective governance requires the presence of strong, well-functioning political and bureaucratic institutions, my analysis suggests that momentum for development can also be created in a less-than-ideal institutional environment where personal connections remain an influential aspect of politics.

Moreover, this study also speaks to a burgeoning literature on the sources of durability in authoritarian regimes. Just as Robert Putnam has argued in his influential book, Making Democracy Work, that social capital, which refers to “trust, norms, and networks” among citizens, is key to the performance of democratic institutions, this study suggests that social capital among the political elites can also be a valuable asset for the proper functioning of regional bureaucracies in a large, multi-layered autocratic regime. Instead of regarding them as merely a source of inefficiency or corruption, therefore, future researchers should pay greater attention to the enabling effects of these networks in studying both persistence and changes of nondemocratic systems.

About the Author: Junyan Jiang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government and Public Administration at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. “Making Bureaucracy Work: Patronage Networks, Performance Incentives, and Economic Development in China” (https://doi.org/10.1111/ajps.12394) is now online available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science. 

AJPS Author Summary – Compulsory Voting and Parties’ Vote Seeking Strategies

Compulsory Voting and Parties’ Vote‐Seeking StrategiesAuthor Summary by Shane P. Singh

Compulsory voting is used in around 30 countries, many of which have only recently adopted the requirement to vote. Meanwhile, a number of countries have switched from mandatory to voluntary voting in recent years. In the run-up to these changes, politicians and commentators regularly deliberated over the putative advantages and drawbacks of compulsory voting.

To this end, it is important that compulsory voting’s consequences are well understood. It is well known that it increases turnout and generally makes voters more reflective of the entire electorate. There is also a burgeoning literature on the effects of compulsory voting on vote choices, the success of the left and right, political sophistication, and attitudes toward democracy. But, little is known about how compulsory voting shapes the behavior of political parties.

In my article, I advance a theory about compulsory voting’s effects on parties’ vote seeking strategies. I argue that, due to their beliefs about the character of compelled voting populations, parties see more value in emphasizing their issue stances and ideological positions where voting is mandatory than where it is not. As a result, I predict that parties will pivot toward programmatic vote seeking strategies and away from clientelistic tactics, such as vote buying, under compulsory voting.

I test my predictions with three separate studies. In Study 1, I show that, across countries, compulsory voting is positively associated with programmatic vote seeking and negatively associated with vote buying. In Study 2, I show that Thailand’s adoption of compulsory voting boosted programmatic vote seeking. And, in Study 3, I show that compulsory voting in Argentina leads parties to avoid certain vote buying tactics. Taken together, the findings of the three studies indicate that compulsory voting leads parties to place more emphasis on issues and ideology when seeking votes.

While my findings update the understanding of the effects of compulsory voting beyond turnout, they may also help to inform debates over compulsory voting’s impact on electoral integrity. Proponents of compulsory voting often argue that it is linked to cleaner elections. In recent deliberations in Bulgaria, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico, for example, some political leaders argued that mandatory voting reduces vote buying. In line with these arguments, my finding of a link from compulsory voting to programmatic, as opposed to clientelistic, vote seeking suggests that compulsory voting could indeed enhance the integrity of elections.

About the Author: Shane P. Singh is Associate Professor in the Department of International Affairs within the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia. Singh’s research “Compulsory Voting and Parties’ Vote‐Seeking Strategies” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

ICYMI: New People, New Policies

By Jan Leighley, AJPS Interim Lead Editor

Summer breaks are never long enough, eh? It’s back to “normal” business as of earlier today, when the Editorial Manager submissions portal re-opened for new business. During our break, I posted some details about the updated submissions guidelines, so be sure to take a careful look at some of the changes that we have made (more on those below).

The other change that we made over break was shifting the editorial staff responsibilities from Michigan State University to American University. The transition for staff responsibilities reflected a fundamental change in the editorial structure—with associate editors identifying reviewers and drafting decision letters based on their readings of the manuscript and the reviews, and letters that I send out after reviewing the manuscript and its reviews. One of the biggest changes has been having Marty Jordan, previously the Managing Editor, shift to a new role as Production Editor. In this capacity, Marty will deal with all matters relating to production as well as replication. At AU, Julia Salvatore has taken over the responsibilities of the ever-important AJPS inbox, managing the stream of incoming emails, as well as other matters relating to the editorial procedures and office management. So when you email AJPS@mpsanet.org, you’ll most likely be sending Julia an email, and she will ably respond or move it along to whoever can respond. We also have new staff at AU who will assist with technical checks. This includes Ryan Detamble, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Government.

I wrote last week about changes in the submissions process. We will do our best—with new staff as well as updated guidelines—to move manuscripts through technical checks as fast as possible, but need your help to do so. Please send any questions about new submissions—as well as manuscripts already under review—to AJPS@mpsanet.org, and we will respond as quickly as possible.

A few notes about those updated submission guidelines. In my post last week, I noted the changes but didn’t spend much time explaining the rationale for those changes, and that is: to improve the peer review process. Providing the names of co-authors from the past five years for every author on submitted papers will allow us to avoid “obvious” conflicts of interest that are both difficult and time-consuming for either editors or staff to identify. Additional details regarding author anonymity—and the need to disclose whether the manuscript being submitted is part of a larger project—is essential to allowing the editors (if not reviewers) be able to assess the independent contribution of each manuscript we review. (If you don’t know what “salami-slicing” is in the editing/academic publishing world, maybe ask about that at APSA…) We don’t want to publish papers that are re-treads, or that make marginal advances—which means that the AJPS editorial team and reviewers need to be able to evaluate every manuscript in light of what it contributes, aside from related book projects, other publications—and even related papers under review. We encourage you to follow the updated guidelines  as closely as possible—but also to please email with any questions or concerns you have about related work before you submit your manuscript.

Finally, we announced last week that generally we expect supplemental information (SI) files to be no longer than 20 pages. Our primary goal here is to enhance the use of the SI information as part of the review process—which means for some authors, more focus and intentionality in what and how much is provided as a supplemental file to allow AJPS to publish papers that stand on their own.  We plan to discuss these policies with editorial board members at APSA and will consider additional updates to the guidelines as needed.  Until then, we ask that authors work toward limiting SI files to 20 pages, and send any questions about this to AJPS@mpsanet.org.

With the Editorial Manager portal open again—and the deadline for APSA papers approaching (or past?)—it will be a busy week. I hope it’s a good one on all fronts, as the summer draws to a close.

 

 

AJPS Author Summary: Remittances and Protest in Dictatorships

By Abel Escribà‐Folch, Covadonga Meseguer, and Joseph Wright

Remittances and Protest in DictatorshipsCan migrant remittances foster political change in recipient countries? Do they contribute to empowering citizens? Our research seeks to answer these questions by exploring the relationship between remittance inflows and anti-incumbent protest. We conclude that remittances increase the probability of anti-incumbent mobilization in autocracies. Interestingly, we find that within autocracies, remittance recipients are more likely to mobilize against autocrats in pro-opposition districts. Contrary to the extended view suggesting that remittances induce disengagement from politics by providing families with additional income, we argue that remittances increase political protest in non-democracies by augmenting the resources available to potential political opponents.

For many developing countries, remittances are the second if not the first source of unearned foreign income. Indeed, in 2016, according to UNCTAD and World Bank data, developing countries received $646 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI), while remittances totaled $445 billion. While economists have explored the economic consequences of remittances in home countries for decades, political scientists have, save for a few exceptions, conspicuously ignored the political consequences that remittances may have in their countries of origin. Remittances are private transfers between emigrants and their relatives left behind. As a result, social scientists often portrayed them as free from involvement by government middlemen, in contrast with other sources of unearned foreign income such as aid or oil rents. But what does this imply in terms of the domestic political consequences of these flows?

In our article, we use novel data on anti-incumbent protests in 102 countries in the period 1976–2010 to show that remittances increase the likelihood of anti-incumbent protest in autocracies, where groups have limited access to resources and institutionalized mechanisms for voicing demands are constrained, but not in democracies. Moreover, using subnational data on eight sub-Saharan autocracies in 2008, we spell out the conditions under which protest in autocratic regimes is more likely to occur. In particular, we contend that remittances activate protest in opposition districts, where dissatisfaction with incumbent governments is likely to be higher. This effect is not, however, present in non-opposition regions. In other words, the availability of extra resources in the form of remittances is not enough to spur contentious political activities. Insofar as protests in autocratic regimes are a major factor conducive to regime change, our article shows that remittances can be a factor triggering transitions to democracy in autocratic regimes.

 
About the Authors: Abel Escribà-Folch is Associate Professor at the Department of Political and Social Sciences at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Covadonga Meseguer is Associate Professor of International Relations at London School of Economics and Political Science, and Joseph Wright is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Pennsylvania State University. Their research “Remittances and Protest in Dictatorships” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Some Details about New AJPS Submission Requirements

By Jan Leighley, AJPS Interim Lead Editor

I’m a firm believer in celebrating every step along the way when the goal is to publish research at a peer-reviewed journal: when the manuscript is “done”; when it’s submitted; when there is a decision (whether positive or not, and whether final or not); when page proofs arrive; when page proofs are completed; when the manuscript is published online; and when the print version arrives. As with many aspects of academic life, publishing always takes longer, and is always more complicated, than one would like.

Celebrating the submission of a manuscript to the AJPS has never been more important—in part because of its high impact ranking, but also (on a more practical level) we are now asking authors to do a bit more as they submit manuscripts. Effective immediately, we have added several new details to the submission process. All authors who plan to submit a manuscript should take a look at the updated submission guidelines we have posted online before finishing the manuscript for submission.

One of the key changes we have made is to limit the length of Supporting Information documents to 20 pages or less. While it is true that online “space” (where Supporting Information documents are published) is unlimited, the time and attention of editors and reviewers are not. We hope this page limit results in more thoughtful and focused decisions about what additional details are provided—but also helps to produce papers that can “stand alone,” without a seeming endless dumping of additional details and analysis into the ever-present “Supporting Information” file.

The new manuscript guidelines also provide more details about how we expect author anonymity to be maintained in the manuscript. Here, we also now ask corresponding authors to provide details about other related papers under review, or book manuscripts in development. We hope this clarifies what information authors are expected to provide to allow reviewers to assess the manuscript’s theoretical and empirical contributions, independent of other related work. Whether cited in the submitted paper or not, if other papers “in progress” overlap with the AJPS submission, we want to know about them.

Related, we now ask corresponding authors to provide the names of co-authors from the past five years for every author of the submitted manuscript, along with identifying each author’s dissertation chair. This allows us to better avoid conflicts-of-interest as we invite reviewers on manuscripts—in a growing, increasingly complex discipline that now reaches across continents. Though we are each experts in our respective subfields (and more, at times), we simply cannot know all the professional and personal connections that might compromise the peer-review process.

And, finally, we have implemented procedures to implement the MPSA council policy regarding editorial conflicts of interest. All authors should review that policy so that the manuscript’s corresponding author is able to identify any potential conflicts of interest with the current editorial team. As dictated by council policy, the MPSA Publishing Ethics Committee (chaired by Sarah Binder) provides guidance on some cases where an alternative editorial process is required.

Thanks to all of our authors for sending their best work to us—and helping us to provide the most efficient and rigorous review process possible.  As always, send questions about the submission and review process to ajps@mpsanet.org, and best wishes for the start of the new semester.

 

What AJPS is Publishing When, and Staff Transitions

By Jan Leighley, AJPS Interim Lead Editor

After a whirlwind editorial transition, we are looking forward to a reprieve from the daily submissions that require our attention. We are taking a two-week break from the workload (instead of the usual month-long hiatus), which will allow us to catch up on decisions, pester reviewers and tend to the usual pre-APSA and Fall Semester preparations.

Of course, the two-week break will not slow down the publication of accepted papers; volume 62:3 was just released in July. All of the papers in 62:3 were shepherded through review and publication by Bill Jacoby and his staff. The same will hold true for nearly all the papers in 62:4—to be published in October—where we have had the privilege of moving some of the papers into the final decision or production stages.

Substantively, I have been surprised by the large number of comparative politics submissions we are receiving—though a careful review of 62:3 and 62:4 should have been an obvious sign that, contrary to some rumors, the AJPS publishes far more than “just” American politics. Related, I have received emails asking whether the AJPS publishes qualitative research papers, as rumor has it the AJPS does not. Just to clarify: come August 20, the AJPS will be open for submissions again, and we welcome submissions across all subfields, and all methodological approaches. As a general journal, we seek to publish the best work across the discipline, papers that offer theoretical, methodological and empirical advances.

I am also using the time over break to make the staff transition from Michigan State to American University, which we couldn’t do during the abbreviated transition period in the spring. I am grateful to the MPSA, Michigan State and, most importantly, the exceptional staff that continued to work for us as we sorted out editorial issues. Marty Jordan, who was Managing Editor for the past year, continued to play this key role for the past few months, while Nathaniel C. Smith and Jessica A. Schoenhoerr also continued in their roles as Editorial Assistants. We simply could not have caught up from the month-long hiatus, and starting to review manuscripts (old and new) without each of them continuing to do the fine work they had done over the past year.

Aside from manuscript decisions, though, who is doing what here in the editorial office will change. I am pleased to introduce Julia Salvatore as our new Editorial Administrative Assistant. Julia will be, most importantly, managing the ajps@mpsanet.org inbox, responding to author, reviewer and associate editor queries, among other office management tasks. Marty Jordan will be shifting to Production Editor, handling all post-decision matters associated with the publication of accepted papers, including replication and post-production communications.

I thank you for your patience as we shift Marty, Julia and others into new and different responsibilities and tasks. Hopefully the slower pace of the editorial office during the break will minimize any disruptions due to the staff transition. As always, send questions or concerns to ajps@mpsanet.org.

AJPS Author Summary: Legislative Capacity and Credit Risk

Author Summary by David Fortunato and Ian R. Turner

AJPS Author Summary - Legislative Capacity and Credit Risk

American state legislatures vary widely in the degree to which they provide legislators with the tools to efficiently translate policy preferences into policy outcomes. The world is complex and legislating is difficult; having more staff that can share the burden of research and bill-writing, more time to craft and scrutinize legislation, and alleviating the need for additional income (apart from one’s legislative salary) allows state legislators to better understand the world and draft policies to more closely reflect their voters’ will. We call the provision of these goods “legislative capacity” and previous research has found that in states where capacity is higher, legislators are more active and voters are substantially more likely to get the policies they want (e.g., Lax and Phillips 2012).[1]

But voters can be fickle, preferring one type of policy today and another tomorrow. Similarly, policy environments are affected by economic shocks and persistent drift. This means that, in states with high capacity legislatures, we should expect more policy change, on average, than in states with low capacity legislatures. This change can make it difficult for lending markets (the individual or institutional investors who buy and sell debt) to predict what a state’s political economic environment — its regulatory regimes, tax codes, etc. that determine its willingness and ability to service its debt — will look like 5, 10, or 20 years in the future. That is, states with high capacity legislatures are better equipped to alter policy in response to changing voter preferences, environmental considerations, or economic shocks, which can introduce variability into the political-economic environment of the state. As a result, we predict that high capacity states will be evaluated as riskier and will have to pay higher premiums to borrow.

We evaluate this claim empirically by comparing states’ credit risk evaluations (estimated from the general obligation bond ratings) to their legislative capacity (legislator salary, legislative session length, and the legislators’ informational resources). In the article we estimate more advanced statistical models, providing robust support for our hypothesized association, but here we simply show the correlation between the two values in all American states over a period of 16 years. In each year the relationship is positive and the modeling we perform in the article reveals that we are confident in this relationship.

Figure 1 - Credit Risk and Legislative Capacity in the American States

Figure 1

 

What these data suggest is that lending markets negatively evaluate states with the legislative resources to more effectively represent their constituents by lowering their credit ratings. That is, we provide evidence that there is a real cost of democratic responsiveness that has thus far remained relatively unexplored. To put this in perspective substantively: On average, the increase in debt maintenance costs necessary to improve capacity from among the lowest ranking states (e.g., New Hampshire, New Mexico, Alabama) to states in middle of the pack (e.g., South Carolina, Connecticut, Arizona) is about $1 per capita, per year in additional debt maintenance costs — a cost that compounds over time as debts inevitably grow.

Of course, we do not argue that our study implies that states would be better off with low capacity policymaking institutions. There are myriad benefits associated with high capacity legislatures, not the least of which is increased policy responsiveness. However, we do suggest that treating democratic responsiveness as an unconditional public good misses important, and potentially very costly, perverse effects that may simultaneously manifest as responsiveness increases. In short, to understand the trade-offs associated with institutional development, such as legislative capacity, for democratic representation and accountability we need to continue to explore both the upsides and the (perhaps unintended) downsides.

About the Authors: David Fortunato is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Texas A&M University. Ian R. Turner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Yale University. Their research “Legislative Capacity and Credit Risk” appears in the July 2018 issue (Volume 62, issue 3) of the American Journal of Political Science.

[1] Lax, Jeffrey R., and Justin H. Phillips. 2012. “The Democratic Deficit in the States.” American Journal of Political Science 56(1): 148—166.



The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) is the flagship journal of the Midwest Political Science Association and is published by Wiley.