Public policy is important because policy choices and decisions made by those in power affect almost every aspect of daily life, including education, health and national security. Public policy decisions are made every day and cover all levels of government. Some public policy decisions are made at the local government level, while others are made by local officials and policy makers at national and international levels.
Policies established by officials at all levels of government establish rules, regulations and procedures that guide the actions of citizens in their jurisdiction. Public policy decisions are mainly made to improve the health, safety and welfare of citizens, and can set standards for educational institutions, transportation operations and housing facilities. Some public policies deal with short-term issues, such as coordinating relief efforts after natural disasters or to reduce economic concerns generated by sudden declines in markets.
Public policy is determined mainly by elected officials, who are elected to the office for a certain period of time by citizens. Public policy affects short-term issues as well as complex and difficult to solve problems that occur in many locations and are carried out across generations. Public policy establishes some social norms for behavior, and also seeks to improve the quality of life of people.
Example of public policy
Examples of public policies are minimum wage laws, public assistance programs, and the Affordable Care Act. The definition of public policy is law, priorities and government actions that reflect attitudes and rules for the public. Public policy is not just law or regulation that is passed by the government. Conversely, public policy includes beliefs and attitudes that result in the passing of laws or regulations.
There are four main types of public policy: distributive, redistributive, regulative, and constituent. Distributive policies are often made in response to certain problems and only affect a select group of people. For example, regulations passed by the Environmental Protection Agency affect certain producers more than other types of businesses. Although distributive policies only affect certain groups, the benefits can be extended to larger groups of people, such as when environmental regulations improve air quality. On the other hand, redistributive policies affect the majority. For example, the Affordable Care Act is a redistributive policy.
Regulatory policies are often applied to businesses and companies. For example, the law on monopoly status in certain industries is an example of regulatory policy. The last type of public policy, constituent public policy, is similar to regulatory policy. However, constituent policies produce laws and regulations, and that also determines how public funds legal efforts.