Patterns of Lawmaking: The Entangled Political Economy of Crises

Doctoral Dissertation in Political Economy

Author(s): Wolf von Laer
Year: 2017Pages: 343Publisher: King's CollageCity: London, UK

Patterns of Lawmaking: The Entangled Political Economy of Crises Wolf von Laer

In this dissertation, I present a unique pattern of lawmaking during crisis: laws become enacted quicker while at the same time gaining length. The data this pattern is based on come from the study of 11,584 laws passed by the US Congress over more than four decades.

The second part of the dissertation presents theoretical explanations for this pattern of lawmaking during crisis. For this I rely on an entangled political economy framework. This framework allows me to go beyond most narrow rational-choice theories and study the complex web of exchange relationships that makes up the lawmaking process. I study four groups that enter into this process: voters, legislators, interest groups, and bureaucrats. I argue that voters influence legislators not only by voting but also by generating pressure during crisis. Legislators react to citizens’ demands and want to signal to the electorate that they are addressing the crisis. They create what I call “Christmas tree laws”: laws that contain many policy proposals while serving the interests of legislators’ constituencies and themselves. Interest groups are to a large extent only reactive forces during this process since they cannot keep up with the speed and extensiveness of lawmaking. Certain coalitions of interest groups are able to secure rents, but that does not apply to interest groups in general. Lastly, I study bureaucrats and find that they are crucial nodes in the political decision-making structure because they design, interpret, and implement laws. Both bureaucrats and lawmakers have an incentive to delegate lawmaking to bureaucracies, which enables certain powerful individuals within bureaucracies to use formal and informal relationships to attain their personal or policy objectives.


Laer, Wolf von (2017), Patterns of Lawmaking: The Entangled Political Economy of Crises. Doctoral Dissertation in Political Economy. London, UK: Department of Political Economy, King's Collage.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State


This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

About the book


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 | info@ifn.se