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Title: Reassessing Policy Drift: Social Policy Change in the United States
Authors: Waddan, A. E. S.
Béland, D.
Rocco, P.
First Published: 22-Feb-2016
Publisher: Wiley
Citation: Social Policy and Administration, 2016, 50(2), pp. 201-218
Abstract: As formulated by Jacob Hacker, the concept of policy drift turned institutional theories of public policy on their heads by suggesting that consequential policy changes often happen in the absence of reform. Especially prevalent in times of political gridlock or stasis, policy drift is a useful concept for capturing how inaction can gradually diminish the effectiveness of social programmes over time. By highlighting cases of difficult-to-see policy inaction, however, Hacker's concept sets a high bar for empirical scholarship. In this article, we suggest that analyzing policy drift requires attention to comparative policy outcomes, the implementation of reforms intended to alleviate drift, and the time frame of the study. With these insights in mind, we analyze the impact of drift on US retirement security and health care coverage to reflect policy changes that have occurred since Hacker's original analysis was published.
DOI Link: 10.1111/spol.12211
ISSN: 0144-5596
eISSN: 1467-9515
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2016, John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Béland, D., Rocco, P., and Waddan, A. (2016) Reassessing Policy Drift: Social Policy Change in the United States. Social Policy & Administration, 50: 201–218, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Description: The file associated with this record is under a 24-month embargo from publication in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy, available at The full text may be available in the publisher links provided above.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Politics and International Relations

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