National intervention and the diffusion of policy innovations

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Scholars have long recognized that national activity influences both the substance and the timing of state policymaking. This article examines whether the content of national legislation affects the state-level enactment of policy innovations even if it does not mandate their adoption or provide a financial incentive for state lawmakers to enact them. It uses event history analysis on pooled, cross-sectional data to examine the diffusion of three innovations in human services policy: individual development accounts, family caps, and medical savings accounts. Its results suggest that national intervention affects the likelihood that state lawmakers will adopt an innovation by altering the strength of the obstacles that prevent innovation or by providing resources to help overcome these obstacles. National intervention that does not affect these determinants of innovation seems to have no significant effect on state officials' decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-426
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Politics Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2006

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Devolution
  • Federalism
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Policy diffusion
  • Public policy
  • State government


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