Many scholars have argued that because consumers are poorly organized, regulatory enforcement will tend to be lax and serve the interests of industry. Considering, however, that elections are one of the main mechanisms by which the public exerts control over policy, surprisingly few studies have examined how electoral incentives may spur the government to regulate vigorously on behalf of consumers. We argue that when the threat of electoral accountability is greater, regulatory activities will serve the interests of the public, even if they impose costs on industry. We test this theoretical expectation by analyzing state regulatory activity in the wake of exogenous storms and natural disasters, which provide us with important theoretical and causal leverage. We find that a more “pro-regulation” electorate and elected chief regulators acting in close proximity to elections are associated with pro-consumer regulatory action.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science