Elder Abuse Law
ABSTRACT This study by an interdisciplinary team at the University of Iowa finds that law - the way laws are written and treated by state regulators - does have a measurable effect on bureaucratic performance. That is, the care taken by legislatures and state agencies in developing domestic elder abuse law affects how lower-level bureaucrats do their jobs in investigating and reporting abuse. Perhaps more interesting, though, are two robust findings about state law-making behavior. Both legislator characteristics (in this case, the middle-aged or slightly older legislator) and lobbying by what would seem the most important interest group (in this case, the AARP) sometimes do not have the effect we might expect. At first blush, it would seem logical for these variables to predict greater concern for elders at risk of abuse. In fact, they have the opposite effect in some of the models regardless of the way particular equations are specified, whether or not they are interacted, or exactly how the variables are specified. We surmise that these legislators and lobbyists see other issues as more both more politically attractive and more pressing, since elder abuse is almost exclusively confined to the very old (over 85) and helpless. On the other hand, the presence of AARP lobbyists in state capitals consistently does predict more concern for the elderly at the administrative, rather than the legislative, level. The difference between legislative and regulatory lobbying may thus reflect the differing public scrutiny given to the two activities.