In his new book Why Bad Policies Spread (and Good Ones Don’t), Professor Chuck Shipan and his co-author Craig Volden argue that state governments often face difficulties identifying and adopting policies that are helpful rather than harmful. The book argues that the learning-based spread of good policies can occur, but only when three conditions are met: the policies that other states have experimented with are visible, there is time to learn from these earlier policy experiments, and policymakers have enough expertise and favorable incentives to properly evaluate these other experiments.
The book illustrates this argument by discussing numerous pressing policy problems – featuring COVID-19 policymaking in the intro and conclusion, for example, and numerous others along the way. In addition to discussing policy challenges being confronted in all fifty states, the book also examines when and why this process might go wrong, allowing bad policies to spread while good ones don't. It concludes with a series of lessons for policymakers at every level of the American federal system.
This book can be downloaded for free from Cambridge University Press until September 17.