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Public Policy

Public Policy
Politics, Analysis, and Alternatives

Fourth Edition

592 pages | CQ Press
A companion website is available for this text

All too often, public policy textbooks offer a basic grounding in the policy process without the benefit of integrating the use of policy analysis. Kraft and Furlong, since their first edition, take a different tack. They want students to understand how and why policy analysis is used to assess policy alternatives—not only to question the assumptions of policy analysts, but to recognize how analysis is used in support of political arguments. To encourage critical and creative thinking on issues ranging from the financial bailout to rising gas prices to natural disasters, the authors introduce and fully integrate an evaluative approach to policy.

Public Policy starts with a concise review of institutions, policy actors, and major theoretical models. The authors then discuss the nature of policy analysis and its practice, and show students how to employ evaluative criteria in six substantive policy areas. Public Policy arms students with analytic tools they need to understand the motivations of policy actors—both within and outside of government—influence a complex, yet comprehensible, policy agenda.

Enhancements to the 4th edition:

- All chapters have been comprehensively updated to include recent events, issues, and policy debates including the conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the use of private contractors for military support and operations, the rising cost of gasoline and disputes over energy policy and climate change, the controversy over immigration policy, requirements for financial regulation, heightened concerns over economic and social inequality, and the clash over reforming taxes and entitlement programs, as well as dealing with the federal deficit and national debt.

- New and updated "working with sources" and "steps to analysis" features help students investigate sources of information and apply evaluative criteria.

- New and updated end-of chapter discussion questions, suggested readings, and web sites.

Public Policy and Politics
What Is Public Policy?

Defining Basic Concepts

The Contexts of Public Policy

The Reasons for Government Involvement

Why Study Public Policy?

The Practice of Policy Analysis

Government Institutions and Policy Actors
Growth of Government
Government Institutions and Policy Capacity


Separation of Powers

Informal Policy Actors and Policy Capacity

Improving Policy Capacity

Understanding the Politics of Public Policy
Theories of Politics and Public Policy

The Policy Process Model

Instruments of Public Policy

Policy Typologies

Policy Analysis: An Introduction
The Nature of Policy Analysis

Steps in the Policy Analysis Process

Types of Policy Analysis

What Kind of Analysis Is Needed?

Public Problems and Policy Alternatives
Problem Analysis

How to Find Information

Constructing Alternatives

Creative Thinking about Policy Action

Assessing Policy Alternatives
Evaluative Criteria for Judging Policy Proposals

Using the Methods of Policy Analysis

Economic Approaches

Decision Making and Impacts

Political and Institutional Approaches

Ethical Analysis

Economic and Budgetary Policy

Goals of Economic Policy

Tools of Economic Policy

The Budget Process and Its Effect on Economic Policy

Economic Policy: Successes and Failures

Future Economic Issues and Challenges

Focused Discussion: How to Address the Budgetary Shortfall

Health Care Policy

Major Government Health Care Programs

Rising Health Care Costs

Managed Care Organizations

Reducing Health Care Costs: Beyond HMOs

Quality of Care

Focused Discussion: Should There Be Greater Emphasis on Preventative Health Care?

Welfare and Social Security Policy

Social Security


Focused Discussion: Addressing the Elephant in the Room - Social Security

Education Policy

Problems Facing Education

Higher Education Issues

Education Policy Reforms

Focused Discussion: Higher Education Affordability, Cost, and Values

Environmental and Energy Policy

The Evolution of Environmental and Energy Policy

From Consensus to Conflict in Environmental Policy

Major Federal Environmental Policies

Energy Policies

Focused Discussion: Climate Change and Energy Policy Alternatives

Foreign Policy and Homeland Security
Background and Policy Evaluation

Selected Issues in Homeland Security

Focused Discussion: Civil Liberties in an Age of Terrorism

Politics, Analysis, and Policy Choice
Public Policies and Their Impacts

Policy Analysis and Policy Choices

Citizen Participation in Decision Making



1. This book is quite thin for covering a comprehensive study area of public policy, but thick enough for its extremely dense information inside. Yet the state of fourth edition of the book has shown the popularity of the book. There is no doubt that the book is widely recognized among scholars and students. I myself would also recommend my students in public policy class to include this book into their shelf.
2. Hence, allow me to give my insights about the book from my point of view as a lecturer. First thing first, this book is trying to cover everything and all about public policy. It seems to me that the book is likely to be a panacea for students who rushing to submit their deadline papers. For pragmatic reasons this situation can be tolerated. At least for the sake of paper writing. However, for the further and meaningful purposes of studying public policy, students need to carefully read this book. Not because of it is lack of needed resources, but given the brief topics and chapters written there. Perhaps this book could serve as the main reference of public policy students which lead them to other resources when they need to explore more on certain topics.
3. The book is well organized—as most authors who come from reputable university always structure their book prudently, that makes the book very easy to follow. However, looking back at the sub-titles of the book i.e. politics, analysis and alternatives, I would say that politics has less emphasized than the other two.
4. Part I is the foundation where students can find the basic concepts of politics and public policy. To be honest, this part of the book is something that can be easily found in many other literatures on both politics and public policy. Yet the introduction of the concepts in the beginning of the book is important to tell the reader a background information and outline of what constitute politics and public policy. However, again the discussion of both topics should not be overwhelming as the book is not intended to be a textbook of public policy study.
5. While Part I has been successfully filled with theoretical perspectives of politics and public policy, the second part might be the strength of the book in which not so many book out there addressing public policy analysis. Of course the works done by, for example, Hill and Hupe or Peter John, are masterpiece in the area of policy analysis. But, the second part of this book shows more advantages in a way that analyzing public policy is likely more feasible to be done on the ground using some instruments and tools.
6. Part III should be the trickiest one, in terms of how the author should keep this up-to-date. Having cases to be included in a book is important. Presenting empirical cases is always an advantage and an added value to the book. An empirical case can translate what the concept or theory is addressing into reality A case can also explain in further way in different language about the contextual and empirical situation that may be different from those illustrated in the concept or theory. . The thing is, a case is always contextual and time bound. We might say that a case is important and fit the concept we are offering. When the reader find something newer somewhere else that make the case obsolete, then the added value of the book is certainly decreasing.
7. Students doing politics and public policy may find this book very useful for some reasons i.e. its straightforwardness, its clear outlines and its easy-to-read type of book. Yet, I would recommend the book for completing the existing literature of public policy at the moment, and strongly recommend the book for those who really want to get “there”.

Kraft and Furlong are among few scholars whom I admire, particularly in terms of their consistency in writing. They have been in this business for a long time, and thus there is no doubt of their valuable expertise in public policy. This book is always one of their masterpiece in public policy area.

Mr Yogi Suwarno
Dept of International Development, Birmingham University
November 29, 2013

This book can be used to explore the field of public policy. As it heavily relies on the USA, it will add an interesting facet to the other materials that deal mainly with the german perspective.

Miss Sabrina Mayer
Department of Politics, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz
February 14, 2013

Michael E. Kraft

Michael E. Kraft is professor emeritus of political scienceand public affairs at the University of Wisconsin–GreenBay. He is the author of, among other works, EnvironmentalPolicy and Politics, 8th ed. (2022), and coauthor ofComing Clean: Information Disclosure and EnvironmentalPerformance (2011), with Mark Stephan and Troy D. Abel.In addition, he is the coeditor of Environmental Policy:New Directions in the 21st Century, 12th ed. (2025), withBarry G. Rabe and Norman J. Vig; Toward SustainableCommunities: Transition and Transformations in Environmental Policy, 2nd ed. (2009), withDaniel A. Mazmanian; and Business and Environmental Policy:... More About Author

Scott R. Furlong

Scott R. Furlong is provost/vice president for academicaffairs at the State University of New York at Oswego asof July 2017, after serving ten years as dean of the Collegeof Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and professorof political science and public affairs at the University ofWisconsin–Green Bay. His areas of expertise are regulatorypolicy and interest group participation in the executivebranch, and he has taught public policy for over twentyyears. He is the author or coauthor of many book chaptersand coauthor of Rulemaking: How Government AgenciesWrite Laws and Make Policy, 5th ed. (2019), with CorneliusM. Kerwin. His articles have... More About Author

Also available as a South Asia Edition.