Winning Proposal to the Pierce Scholar's Fund: 2013 Competition

Project Title: The Cyclicality of Moral Policymaking across the American States

Faculty Sponsors: Jenna Bednar

Graduate Student: Srinivas Parinandi

Project Description

In this project, we seek to investigate whether (and if so, why) legislators are more likely to pursue moralistic policymaking when economic conditions are bad rather than good. Examples abound of legislators turning their attention to moralistic issues during times of economic distress. In June of 2009, as Michigan grappled with an unemployment rate of almost 15 percent and the possible demise of its dominant industry, the Michigan House of Representatives approved a budget proposal that included a stipulation prohibiting the use of state family planning funds to pay for abortions. During the same year, as New Mexico faced soaring unemployment, that state’s legislature considered a bill legalizing physician-assisted suicide in addition to several other moralistic policy measures.