How Information Scarcity Influences the Policy Agenda: Evidence from UK Immigration Policy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article explores how patterns of information supply on policy problems influence political attention. It advances two central claims. First, different policy areas are associated with distinct practices in monitoring policy problems: Some produce abundant, ongoing, and reliable information, while others yield scarce, sporadic, and/or unreliable data. Second, these variations in information supply are likely to influence political attention, with information-rich areas associated with a more proportionate distribution of attention, and information-poor areas yielding punctuated attention. The article tests these claims through comparing U.K. political attention to asylum and illegal immigration. Asylum is observed on an ongoing basis through bureaucratic data, court hearings, and lay observations, producing more constant and proportiate political attention. Illegal immigration is observed sporadically through focusing events, usually police operations, eliciting more punctuated attention. These insights about political attention may also help explain why policy responses may be punctuated or incremental.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-389
Number of pages3
Issue number3
Early online date28 Feb 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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