Chapter 16: Policy dismantling, accumulation and performance
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We argue in this chapter that the overall empirical patterns of policy change are neither one of far-reaching policy change nor one of substantial policy dismantling and replacement. Rather, the most dominant development in policy outputs across policy sectors in advanced democracies is the constant, mostly irreversible accumulation of public policies. This has important implications for the policy performance of democratic governments. The longer the process of policy accumulation continues without ambitions to offset this growth by investments in implementing authorities and countries’ democratic infrastructure, the higher the likelihood that the bulk of policies will ultimately become both ineffective and illegitimate. More precisely, it can be expected that - in the long run - unsustainable policy accumulation has the potential to undermine the ability (1) to implement, monitor, and enforce public policy in a timely and evenhanded manner and (2) to maintain sophisticated policy debates within the public arena.

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