The Diffusion of Morality Policies

The field of morality policy lacks comparative analyses across laws that vary in the degree to which they reflect characteristics of morality policy. This study takes state-level Same Sex Marriage Bans, Medical Marijuana Laws and Anti-Obesity legislation in the USA as cases with varying levels of morality policy’s characteristics and investigates the way their diffusion differs. I explain differences in the magnitude of learning-driven diffusion, controlling for theoretically relevant domestic factors, through Event History Analysis and Seemingly Unrelated Estimations. I find that the magnitude of diffusion increases as policies reflect less characteristics of morality policy. Moreover, based on the results I infer that policies with high moral content diffuse preceded by a bounded-learning process, information about which is heavily drawn from polities with similar moral attributes; learning about legislation with moderate and minimal characteristics of morality policy not only occurs selectively, but rather, information is retrieved from ideologically dissimilar polities, too.


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