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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Working Papers published by the Institute of Governmental Studies provide quick dissemination of draft reports and papers, preliminary analysis, and papers with a limited audience. The objective is to assist authors in refining their ideas by circulating results and to stimulate discussion about public policy. Working Papers are reproduced unedited directly from the author's page.

Cover page of Is there a “Disconnect” between Public Opinion and U.S. Immigrant Admissions Policy?

Is there a “Disconnect” between Public Opinion and U.S. Immigrant Admissions Policy?


A large body of research suggests that immigration policy-making in liberal democracies overlooks most citizens’ preferences most of the time. To support this view, scholars often point to an apparent “disconnect” between the expansionary immigration policies prevailing in most of the West and the heavily exclusionary bent of public opinion. This paper argues that the “disconnect” thesis oversimplifies ordinary citizens’ preferences over immigrant admissions policies in ways that inflate the divergence of public policy from public opinion. It demonstrates that the U.S. public’s abstract preference for less immigration in general coexists with strong majority acceptance of the specific admissions policies that generate most immigration. This seeming inconsistency arises in part because concrete questions about admissions policies evoke stronger humanitarian and economic considerations than the standard, more abstract, gauge of immigration policy preferences does. Citizens by and large do not support rolling back the number of immigrants admitted through family reunification, provisions for refugees, and skills-based visas even when they are made aware that these three admissions categories combined account for nearly all foreigners admitted permanently into the country.

Cover page of The Limits of Judicial Persuasion and the Fragility of Judicial Legitimacy

The Limits of Judicial Persuasion and the Fragility of Judicial Legitimacy


Experimental research has yielded findings that are largely optimistic about the Court’s powers to move public attitudes. But left largely unexplored is whether the Court’s pronouncements simultaneously cause the Court to lose support among those who disagree with it. Here we explore these questions using a two-wave survey experiment with a nationally representative sample of Americans. We find that learning of the Court’s rulings moves opinion toward the Court in an unmistakable fashion in only one out of six cases studied (the decriminalization of same-sex relations in Lawrence v. Texas). More significant, we find strong evidence that unpopular Court rulings result in a loss of legitimacy for the Court—but only among conservatives. Our findings suggest that in contemporary American politics, the persuasive powers of the Court are more limited and the institutional legitimacy of the Court more fragile than implied by previous work.

Cover page of Antitrust Law and Public Services Performances with Reference to the Postal Industry

Antitrust Law and Public Services Performances with Reference to the Postal Industry


Scholars and politicians have always fiercely debated on the role of government in the economy. This has shaped the legal frameworks governing the relationship between markets and governments. A key element of these legal frameworks is the antitrust legislation and the focus of this paper is the most remarkable difference between US and EU: State Aid. It is virtually non existent in the former while explicit policy in the latter. While in Europe it became an important issue in the light of the building of a single European market, it has not been a key issue for US antitrust basically because of historical reasons. More specifically, this discussion paper analyzes the impact on regulation of network industries played by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) with its Altmark decision (July 24th 2003), which defined the conditions so that a compensation for public services is not considered state aid. The analysis address specifically on the fourth condition which applies whenever the undertaking is not chosen in a public procurement: compensation needs to be determined by benchmarking the operations of the public service provider against market determined standards. In the last part of this paper we briefly present a case study on the postal sector, where risks for State Aid legislation infringement are likely to arise if universal service cost burdens are to be compensated through public subsidies. We also present a possible way forward that needs to researched to address this issue.