Public policy investment: Risk and return in British politics

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This article sets out and tests a theory of public policy investment - how democratic governments seek to enhance their chances of re-election by managing a portfolio of policy priorities for the public, analogous to the relationship between investment manager and client. Governments choose policies that yield returns the public values; and rebalance their policy priorities later to adjust risk and stabilize return. Do the public reward returns to policy capital or punish risky policy investments? The article investigates whether returns to policy investment guide political management and statecraft. Time-series analyses of risk and return in Britain 1971-2000 reveal that risk and return on government policy portfolios predict election outcomes, and that returns, risk profiles and the uncertainty in public signals influence the prioritization of policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)741-773
Number of pages33
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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