Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Poster Paper: Top-Down Vs. Bottom-up Diffusion: The Case of State-Level Abortion Policies

Saturday, November 14, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Danielle Atkins, University of Tennessee, Daniel L. Fay, The University of Georgia and Vicky Wilkins, American University
Policymakers often look to other jurisdictions to inform their own policy adoption decisions, a process known as policy diffusion. Diffusion can occur as a function of jurisdictions learning from one another about the costs and benefits of potential policies or through a competitive process to create a desirable policy environment within their own jurisdiction. Policymakers may also adopt policies based on the specific preferences of their constituents, regardless of neighboring adoption decisions. Diffusion across the states has historically been modeled as a function of these mechanisms. However, in some policy areas, large, national groups also drive the adoption of policies and provide model language for state legislatures to adopt, which suggests another, more top-down, mechanism of policy diffusion. One such case is abortion policy. In this study we identify states that use model language for abortion policies and compare them to states that use original legislative language for abortion policies (including parental involvement laws, waiting periods, and ultrasound requirements) from 1990-2014. We then use survival analysis to model diffusion of both the model language and original language policies separately as a function of learning (neighboring state policies), competition diffusion (percent of out of state residents obtaining abortions), salience (total number of states with each policy), and lobbying dollars spent in each state by the large, national organizations providing model language. Finally we compare the mechanisms across both types of legislative language and discuss the implications for the study of policy diffusion more broadly.