Who institutionalizes institutions? The case of paternity establishment in the United States

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Objective. Many researchers have cited the importance of institutional legacies to explain why legislators resist transferring tasks from one agency to another but leave undefined exactly what constitutes these legacies. This analysis concretely defines institutional legacies as organized interests who shape the range of options available for programmatic implementation. Methods. Using a pooled, time-series ordered probit model for the U.S. states from 1988 to 1995, this article focuses on the transition from court-based systems to administrative agencies in making paternity determinations. Results. Lawmakers are less likely to move to administrative systems in states where there are family courts, elected judges, and a large number of lawyers organized into the American Bar Association. The presence of women legislators, however, can mitigate these legacy effects and move the process of innovation onward. Conclusions. Institutional legacies are best conceptualized as strong, organized interests who resist relinquishing any part of their authority, even when confronted with more effective ways of achieving policy goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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