The Public Choice of Elder Abuse Law

ArticleinThe Journal of Legal Studies 33(2):517-549 · June 2004with9 Reads
Impact Factor: 1.35 · DOI: 10.1086/421573 · Source: RePEc


    This interdisciplinary study finds that the way laws are written and treated by state regulators measurably affects bureaucratic performance: the care taken by legislatures and state agencies in developing domestic elder abuse law affects how lower-level bureaucrats investigate and reporte abuse. Perhaps more interesting, however, are two robust findings about state law making. Both legislator characteristics (here, being middle-aged or slightly older) and lobbying by seemingly the most important interest group (here, the American Association of Retired Persons [AARP]) sometimes have an unexpected effect. We surmise that these legislators and lobbyists find other issues both more politically attractive and more pressing since elder abuse is almost exclusively confined to the very old and helpless. However, the presence of state AARP lobbyists does predict more concern for the elderly at the administrative level. The difference between legislative and regulatory lobbying may thus reflect the differing public scrutiny given to the two.