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Journal of Public Policy

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A patchwork of policies exists across the United States. While citizens' policy preferences in domains such as the criminal legal system, gun regulations/rights, immigration, and welfare are informed by their political predispositions, they are also shaped by the extent to which policy targets are viewed as deserving. This article centres the idea that collective evaluations matter in policymaking, and it ascertains whether subnational levels of deservingness evaluations of several target groups differ across space to illuminate the link between these judgements and state policy design. We leverage original survey data and multilevel regression and poststratification to create state-level estimates of deservingness evaluations. The analyses elucidate the heterogeneity in state-level deservingness evaluations of several politically relevant groups, and they pinpoint a link between these social reputations and policy design. The article also delivers a useful methodological tool and measures for scholars of state policy design to employ in future research.


Deservingness; Immigration; Policing; Policy design; Social construction; Social welfare


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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