When Does a Group of Citizens Influence Policy? Evidence from Senior Citizen Participation in City Politics
Anzia, Sarah F. Forthcoming. “When Does a Group of Citizens Influence Policy? Evidence from Senior Citizen Participation in City Politics.” Journal of Politics.
When does a group of citizens influence public policy? Mainstream American politics research emphasizes the importance of the group’s turnout and presence in the electorate, but there have been few empirical tests of those hypotheses. Meanwhile, other scholars argue that group cohesiveness, organization, and non-voting political activity are potentially more important than voting for shaping policy. These two strands of the literature have largely developed in parallel, however, in part because they tend to employ different empirical methods. In this paper, I attempt to bridge the divide between them and test these ideas within the same empirical framework, using senior citizens and senior-friendly transportation policy as a test case. My results show that senior voting does not unconditionally predict policies friendlier to seniors. Instead, I find that city policies are friendlier to seniors when seniors are a more cohesive, meaningful group, and when they engage in activities other than voting.