DOI: 10.1177/20531680231188262 ISSN:

Stability and change in the opinion–policy relationship: Evidence from minimum wage laws

Gabor Simonovits, Alexander Bor
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Public Administration
  • Sociology and Political Science

Recent studies have documented large discrepancies between mass preferences and policies in U.S. states consistent with theories that highlight the oversized influence of affluent Americans on policymaking. In this note, we replicate and extend a recent such study (Simonovits, Guess, and Nagler, 2019) to assess how policy bias evolves in time. Specifically, relying on novel data and methods, we construct measures of minimum wage preferences and compare them to observed policies in each state for the years of 2014, 2016, 2019, and 2021. We demonstrate that, averaged across states, policy change closely tracked a pronounced increase in preferences for higher minimum wages, but the size of policy bias remained relatively stable. However, this national pattern hides an increasingly polarized policy landscape: in many states, insufficient responsiveness led to an increasing deviation between preferences and policies, while in other states policy changes—larger than preference changes—closed initial policy bias.

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