Publications

  • Barnes, Lucy and Timothy Hicks (Forthcoming). “Making Austerity Popular: The Media and Mass Attitudes Towards Fiscal Policy”. American Journal of Political Science.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication coming soon ($).
    • Replication data available from the AJPS Dataverse.
    • Abstract

      What explains variation in individual attitudes towards government deficits? Although macroeconomic stance is of paramount importance for contemporary governments, our understanding of its popular politics is limited. We argue that popular attitudes regarding austerity are influenced by media (and wider elite) framing. Information necessary to form preferences on the deficit is not provided neutrally, and its provision shapes how voters understand their interests. A wide range of evidence from Britain between 2010 and 2015 supports this claim. In the British Election Study, deficit attitudes vary systematically with the source of news consumption, even controlling for party identification. A structural topic model of two major newspapers’ reporting shows that content varies systematically with respect to coverage of public borrowing – in ways that intuitively accord with the attitudes of their readerships. Finally, a survey experiment suggests causation from media to attitudes: deficit preferences change based on the presentation of deficit information.

  • Chapman, Bruce and Timothy Hicks (Forthcoming). “The Politics of the Higher Education Contribution Scheme”, in Hamish Coates, Brendan Cantwell, and Roger King (Eds.), Handbook on the Politics of Higher Education. Edward Elgar.
  • Hicks, Timothy, Alan M. Jacobs, and J. Scott Matthews (2016). “Inequality and Electoral Accountability: Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective”. Journal of Politics 78:4, pp.1076–1093.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Replication data available from the JoP Dataverse.
    • A more user-friendly packaging of the replication data.
    • Abstract

      Do electorates hold governments accountable for the distribution of economic welfare? Building on the finding of “class-biased economic voting” in the United States, we examine how electorates in advanced democracies respond to alternative distributions of income gains and losses. Drawing on individual-level electoral data and aggregate election results across 15 countries, we examine whether lower- and middle-income voters defend their distributive interests by punishing governments for concentrating income gains among the rich. We find no indication that non-rich voters punish rising inequality and substantial evidence that electorates positively reward the concentration of aggregate income growth at the top. Our results suggest that governments commonly face political incentives systematically skewed in favor of inegalitarian economic outcomes. At the same time, we find that the electorate’s tolerance of rising inequality has its limits: class biases in economic voting diminish as the income shares of the rich grow in magnitude.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2016). “Acting Right? Privatization, Encompassing Interests, and the Left”. Political Science Research & Methods 4:2, pp.427–448.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Replication data available from the PSRM Dataverse.
    • Abstract

      I present a theoretical account of the politics of privatization that predicts left-wing support for the policy is conditional on the proportionality of the electoral system. In contrast to accounts that see privatization as an inherently right-wing policy, I argue that, like trade policy, it has the feature of creating distributed benefits and concentrated costs. Less proportional electoral systems create incentives for the Left to be responsive to those who face the concentrated costs, and thus for them to oppose privatization more strongly. More proportional systems reduce these incentives and increase the extent to which distributed benefits are internalized by elected representatives. Hypotheses are derived from this theory at both the individual and macro-policy level, and then tested separately. Quantitative evidence on public opinion from the 1990s and privatization revenues from Western European countries over the period 1980–2005 supports the argument.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2015). “Inequality, marketisation, and the left: Schools policy in England and Sweden”. European Journal of Political Research 54:2, 326-342.
    • Republished as part of the Qualitative Research Virtual Special Issue of the EJPR (March 2016).
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Abstract

      It is argued in this article that the marketisation of schools policy has a tendency to produce twin effects: an increase in educational inequality, and an increase in general satisfaction with the schooling system. However, the effect on educational inequality is very much stronger where prevailing societal inequality is higher. The result is that cross-party political agreement on the desirability of such reforms is much more likely where societal inequality is lower (as the inequality effects are also lower). Counterintuitively, then, countries that are more egalitarian – and so typically thought of as being more left-wing – will have a higher likelihood of adopting marketisation than more unequal countries. Evidence is drawn from a paired comparison of English and Swedish schools policies from the 1980s to the present. Both the policy history and elite interviews lend considerable support for the theory in terms of both outcomes and mechanisms.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2014). “Partisan Governance and Policy Implementation: The Politics of Academy Conversion Amongst English Schools”. Public Administration 92:4, 995-1016.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Abstract

      This article demonstrates that party-political orientations within governance communities can have strong effects on policy implementation. Empirical evidence is drawn from the Academy conversion scheme for secondary schools in England that was recently pursued by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government. The opt-in nature of the reform makes it possible to discern the impact that nominally apolitical school governors have on the implementation of the policy. Academy conversion is disproportionately found in more Conservative-voting constituencies due to varying school-level propensities to apply to convert, rather than varying propensities for the Department for Education to authorize conversions. Further, applications to convert are significantly more likely from schools in Conservative parliamentary seats that are under the control of Labour local authorities. Thus, nominally apolitical policy participants appear to act in rather political ways, which has implications for our understanding of the involvement of civil society in the provision of public services.

  • Hicks, Timothy (2013). “Partisan Strategy and Path Dependence: The Post-War Emergence of Health Systems in the UK and Sweden”. Comparative Politics 45:2, 207–226.
    • Pre-publication draft.
    • Final journal publication ($).
    • Abstract

      Why did a highly redistributive, nationalized health care system emerge in the UK, where the Left was comparatively weak, while a more redistributively neutral, cash-centric, insurance-based system was pursued in Sweden, where the Left was strong? The explanation is two fold. First, in contrast to the Swedish Social Democrats, the weakness of the British Labour Party constrained it to pursue redistribution via health policy. Second, given the redistributive goals of the National Health Service, it became imperative for the Labour Party to construct a system that would be difficult for future Conservative governments to retrench. More generally, this formulation posits rational actors operating in the kinds of processes typically studied by historical institutionalists. The result is a tendency for a type of path dependence by design.

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