Persistent policy pathways: Inferring diffusion networks in the American States

Bruce A. Desmarais, Jeffrey J. Harden, Frederick J. Boehmke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


The transmission of ideas, information, and resources forms the core of many issues studied in political science, including collective action, cooperation, and development. While these processes imply dynamic connections among political actors, researchers often cannot observe such interdependence. One example is public policy diffusion, which has long been a focus of multiple subfields. In the American state politics context, diffusion is commonly conceptualized as a dyadic process whereby states adopt policies (in part) because other states have adopted them. This implies a policy diffusion network connecting the states. Using a dataset of 187 policies, we introduce and apply an algorithm that infers this network from persistent diffusion patterns. The results contribute to knowledge on state policy diffusion in several respects. Additionally, in introducing network inference to political science, we provide scholars across the discipline with a general framework for empirically recovering the latent and dynamic interdependence among political actors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-406
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 23 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Persistent policy pathways: Inferring diffusion networks in the American States'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this