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Punctuations and agendas: A new look at local government budget expenditures


  • Meagan M. Jordan

    (Institute of Government, University of Arkansas, Little Rock)


Punctuated equilibrium theory (PET) is an agenda-based theory that offers a theoretical foundation for large budget shifts. PET emphasizes that the static, incremental nature of agendas is occasionally interrupted by punctuations. These punctuations indicate shifts in priority among the agenda items, and with those agenda shifts come trade-offs. This article expands the discussion of punctuated budgets to the level of local government by determining that local government expenditures have the characteristics espoused by the punctuated equilibrium theory. The article also determines the frequency of punctuations and the probability for future punctuations. The findings show that some budget functions and policy types are more prone to punctuations and, therefore, have a less stable agenda. The practical significance of extending PET to local government budgeting is the implication on planning, forecasting, and the agenda-setting process. © 2003 by the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.

Suggested Citation

  • Meagan M. Jordan, 2003. "Punctuations and agendas: A new look at local government budget expenditures," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 22(3), pages 345-360.
  • Handle: RePEc:wly:jpamgt:v:22:y:2003:i:3:p:345-360
    DOI: 10.1002/pam.10136

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1993. "Individual production, community characteristics and the provision of local public services," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(2), pages 277-289, February.
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    6. James M. Poterba, 1997. "Demographic structure and the political economy of public education," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(1), pages 48-66.
    7. Afsaneh Assadian, 1995. "Fiscal Determinants Of Migration To A Fast-Growing State: How The Aged Differ From The General Population," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 25(3), pages 301-316, Winter.
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    Cited by:

    1. Deserai A. Crow, 2010. "Policy Punctuations in Colorado Water Law: The Breakdown of a Monopoly," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 27(2), pages 147-166, March.
    2. Michael Givel, 2010. "The Evolution of the Theoretical Foundations of Punctuated Equilibrium Theory in Public Policy," Review of Policy Research, Policy Studies Organization, vol. 27(2), pages 187-198, March.
    3. Rebecca Hendrick & Jared Crawford, 2014. "Municipal Fiscal Policy Space and Fiscal Structure: Tools for Managing Spending Volatility," Public Budgeting & Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 34(3), pages 24-50, September.
    4. Marie H. Martin & Meg Streams, 2015. "Punctuated Equilibrium Theory: An Empirical Investigation of Its Relevance for Global Health Expenditure," Public Budgeting & Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 35(1), pages 73-94, March.

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