In 2021, we reached out to scholars who are members of the American Political Science Association to support a new organized section on American Political Economy. The response to our petition was rapid and impressive—nearly 400 signatures in a matter of weeks—and in 2022, the new APE organized section was launched.  
The purpose of the section is to facilitate and promote research in the emerging subfield of APE—the study of the interaction of markets and politics in the United States. The section facilitates panels exploring topics related to APE at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, recognizes quality scholarship in the APE subfield with awards, and provides mentorship for younger scholars working in the APE subfield.

The APE organized section overlaps with but is distinct from the Consortium for American Political Economy. It is currently co-chaired by Chloe Thurston of Northwestern University and Jacob Hacker of Yale University, with a leadership team consisting of Sarah Anzia, U.C. Berkeley (2023 program co-chair and member of the Executive Council); Nate Kelly, University of Tennessee (secretary-treasurer), Lisa Miller (2023 program co-chair and member of the Executive Council), and Jessica Trounstine, U.C. Merced (vice chair).

For more on the organized section, including how to join, please visit the section’s website.
The Consortium on the American Political Economy Junior Working Group (CAPE-JWG) is a graduate-focused online working group for PhD students and early junior faculty to discuss ongoing research projects and build community, with the ultimate goal of advancing the study of the American Political Economy (APE) within the American political science subfield.
The Consortium on the American Political Economy Junior Working Group
  • Contribute to the intellectual community of American Political Economy (APE) and related topics, including those interested in using a diverse array of methodologies and placing the US in comparative perspective
  • Provide a space for junior members of the discipline to connect, presenting the potential of finding co-authors as well as other joint research opportunities;
  • Workshop on-going research;
  • Offer a place for junior scholars to receive advice from faculty with similar interests;
  • Help mainstream APE as an intellectual project.
  • Public policy
  • Public law
  • Racial and ethnic politics
  • Historical and contemporary political economy
  • American political development (APD)
  • Policy preferences and outcomes
  • Political and economic behavior
  • Qualitative and mixed-methods research
  • Participation is open to any political science graduate student, post-docs, and junior faculty.
  • For students (and recent PhD graduates), we are especially interested in bringing together individuals from a diverse group of universities, where students have an interest in APE and related topics detailed above; these include individuals doing APE-related research at institutions outside of the U.S.
  • Although participation is online, we are interested in students who can participate regularly.
  • Meetings are every third Wednesday of the month, 3-4:30 ET, beginning Spring 2023.
  • Each meeting will feature 1-2 presentations of ongoing research, comments from a discussant, and Q&A session.
  • Once or twice during the semester, we will hold a research professionalization session featuring one or two established junior, mid-career, and senior scholars in APE.

Submit Abstracts for Future Workshops & Sign Up for Updates About the Group

Interested in presenting your work? Want to stay up-to-date with the group’s activities? Submit an abstract and/or your contact information to the following form. Deadline to be considered for Fall 2023 is Aug. 18.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the co-organizers, Rachel Funk Fordham, Claire Ma and Trevor Brown.
October 4, 2023 3:00 PM

‘In This House We Believe’: The Housing Crisis, Redistribution, and the Renter-Homeowner Divide among Democrats

Sam Zacher and Amelia Malpas
Yale University
Mallory SoRelle, Duke University
The intensifying housing crisis in America is disproportionately impacting the nation's biggest metropolitan areas. At the same time, the Democratic voting coalition has increasingly dominated these metros, as Democratic politicians have won more support from affluent, educated urban and suburban homeowners. These interacting dynamics have produced a wide gulf of housing wealth and economic precarity between Democratic renters and homeowners. Given the power of shared partisanship in American politics, does this economic divide translate into preference differences in the coalition? We argue that, indeed, Democratic renters are far more likely than homeowners to favor more aggressive state intervention to mitigate American inequality. Specifically, we show that Democratic renters are consistently more likely than homeowners to support the most left-leaning presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders, and redistributive housing policies. Democratic renters are only mildly more supportive of non-housing redistribution but are more likely to intensely demand more public housing. To support these claims, we analyze an array of survey data, including data on a real-world ballot proposition and original data measuring preference intensity. These findings carry implications for the contemporary politics of metro-area housing, the Democratic Party politics of redistribution, and the interaction of economic interests and political identities. (Note: This session will be joint with Marco M. Aviña and Marcelo Roman).
October 18, 2023 3:00 PM

Computer Science Education and Skills for the Digital Economy

Nora Reikosky
University of Pennsylvania
Jesse Rhodes, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Through President Obama’s Computer Science For All and other vocationalized educational policy efforts aimed at “21st Century Skills” and "career readiness," proponents of schooling for work suggest various national crises and social, political, or economic problems related to inequality may be resolved or avoided. Increasingly, career readiness at the K-12 level involves the advancement of STEM and CS curriculum. These policy efforts often target districts serving poor and racially minoritized students to develop technical skills for future work, while aiming to minimize persistent poverty (Greene, 2021). This paper asks how a mainstream emphasis on developing “skills for the 21st century” through computer science (CS) curriculum was developed as a mechanism for achieving “career readiness.” Relatedly, it investigates the political actors and coalitions are that are responsible for advancing the parallel objectives of career readiness and expanded CS education, working to understand how they discursively articulate and advance their aims. I investigate the relationships between NGO, corporate, and philanthropic actors in relation to the state as a persistant alliance devoted to education toward economic ends. I examine public and private advocacy efforts for expanding CS education across all levels of elementary and secondary education, particularly those originating at the federal level during and following President Obama’s administration. I consider these efforts alongside human capital education reforms, analyzing the role of private actors in advancing expanded CS education. I theorize the ways these efforts undermine political equality and democratic institutions and conclude with mechanisms to mitigate these risks.
November 1, 2023 3:00 PM

Owning The Green Grid: The Political Economy of Renewable Energy Policy Design in the U.S. States

Josh Basseches
Tulane University
Sam Trachtman, UC Berkeley Goldman School of Public Policy
My book 'Owning the Green Grid' offers a new account of why U.S. state-level climate and renewable energy policy is so variable in its environmental strength, and so similar in its distributive qualities: namely, in all cases, costs are shifted from utilities to ratepayers. While the political science literature generally highlights the importance of partisanship and energy economy in explaining policy variation, my book centers a new, political economy explanation of variation in policy design. I argue that a key, underappreciated factor is the structure of the electric utility sector because it informs the policy preferences of investor-owned utilities, which are the single most influential interest group actor when it comes to shaping policy design. Drawing on seven state-level case studies of states that vary in partisanship, energy economy and electric sector structure -- and that together house one third of the U.S. population -- I analyze legislative and regulatory texts, more than 16,000 pages of archival material, and transcripts from more than 200 policy-focused interviews to argue that, while partisanship and energy economy may be the primary factors leading to a state’s decision to adopt these policies, it is the structure of the electric utility sector that is the most important factor in how they are ultimately designed.
September 20, 2023 3:00 PM

Damages Denied: The Impact of ERISA’s Statutory Design on Patients’ Access to Health Care

Despite being written primarily as a pension law, the Employment Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974 has come to apply to the majority of employer-sponsored health plans in the United States. However, despite its health care salience in self-insured plans, it has a key statutory design feature that limits patients’ ability to access their prescribed care: it precludes damages recovery for those who have been denied health coverage, an insurance practice that is pervasive and increasing. What’s more, the law does not even necessarily guarantee the awarding of attorney’s fees if successful. A consequence is that patients from marginalized groups will be less willing to incur the costs of litigating to secure coverage for their prescribed care. The absence of litigation incentives creates perverse incentives for insurers because it makes it all the more unlikely that patients will be able to obtain legal representation, such that insurers may deny with impunity. Drawing on extant literature on path dependence and on ERISA’s history and implementation, legislative history of Congress's health care reform efforts, original data on ERISA-related litigation and bill introductions, and interviews with key legislative and executive staffers, this paper evaluates this statutory design’s persistence across moments of health care reform including the 1993-1994 health care reform efforts, the Patients’ Bill of Rights, and the Affordable Care Act, and the ways in which this can not only limit patients’ rights upon a coverage denial but reduces health insurer accountability in a manner that can perpetuate the denials themselves. (Note: This session will be joint with Alex Garlick.)
Miranda Yaver
Wheaton College
Pam Herd, Georgetown University

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