Political Inequality and State Policy Adoption: Predatory Lending, Children's Health Care, and Minimum Wage


This article argues that considering the economic status of various politically active groups in society is an important and often overlooked aspect of representation. Economic status is linked closely with economic need, which is especially important for the disadvantaged. Income affects the types of government programs people are influenced by and rely on; for example, government health care and public housing policies are more likely to directly influence the poor while those with higher economic status may never have an experience with these programs. This suggests that different levels of political activity by various groups in society can have an influence on lawmakers’ decisions regarding how to address certain issues. Using a relative index of economic inequalities in participation for each of the 50 states over time, I examine whether housing, health care, and wage equity policies are more beneficial to the disadvantaged when levels of participation inequality are low. Time-series cross-sectional (TSCS) analyses are used to understand the relationship between state participation bias and the favorability of policy outcomes for the poor. The results of this study have important implications for how political power can be used to control the policy process.

Poverty & Public Policy