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Rational Individual Behavior and Collective Irrationality: The Legislative Choice of Regulatory Form


McCubbins, Mathew Daniel (1983) Rational Individual Behavior and Collective Irrationality: The Legislative Choice of Regulatory Form. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/TWN7-3723.


Studies of regulatory choice have focused primarily upon the origins and impacts of regulation. Though the form of the regulatory legislation influences the magnitude and distribution of the costs and benefits from the implementation of the regulation, few of the studies of regulatory choice have addressed the choice of regulatory form. The form of regulatory legislation can be thought to consist of the legislature's choice of regulatory policies and instruments and the degree of substantive and procedural discretion afforded the administering agency by the legislature.

The purpose of this dissertation is to suggest and justify a three-sector model of the choice of regulatory form, wherein a representative legislature, an administrative bureaucracy, and participating interest groups interact to define public policy. The model will be developed formally and hypotheses as to the choice of regulatory form will be derived, largely through partial equilibrium analysis. These hypotheses will suggest that the structure of the regulated industry and the aggregate nature of the preferences of the interest groups involved in the decision process will determine, in large part, the form of the regulatory legislation.

The hypotheses will be operationalized to facilitate the application of empirical data. Empirical data will be of the form of legislative case-studies of various federal regulatory statutes. In these case-studies I shall examine the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, and the Civil Aeronautics Act among others. Evidence from these case-studies will be focused to support the operational hypotheses derived and the model from which they were developed.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Regulation, administrative procedure, politics, oversight, structure and process
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Noll, Roger G.
Thesis Committee:
  • Ferejohn, John A. (chair)
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick
  • Fiorina, Morris P.
  • Cain, Bruce E.
  • Noll, Roger G.
Defense Date:30 July 1982
Non-Caltech Author Email:mathew.mccubbins (AT)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Andrew W. Mellon FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10222019-094517033
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:11839
Deposited By: Bianca Rios
Deposited On:22 Oct 2019 17:41
Last Modified:23 Oct 2019 16:07

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