What are public policies?

Public policies are measures created by governments to guarantee rights, assistance or provision of services to the population . The objective is to ensure that the population has access to the rights guaranteed by law.

These measures are an important part of public administration, as they represent government plans and are designed to improve society and meet citizens’ needs.

Public policies are also a way of helping to reduce social inequalities that exist in a country and can be used as a tool for social inclusion .

There may be many types of public policy in all areas, which are chosen according to local needs. Some examples are: health policies, education, social assistance, culture, among others.

Types of public policies

Public policies are divided into four types, according to the objectives and the area of ​​influence of the measures:

This is the most used classification for public policies. It was created by political scientist Theodore Lowi (1931-2017), who did important research on the topic.

Distributive Policies

They are directed at certain groups of people, to benefit part of the population that does not have access to a certain right. These policies can be defined according to the special characteristics or needs of a social group.

Examples : establishment of special tariff policies, offering services for specific needs and offering tax incentives for small businesses.

Redistributable Policies

Redistributive policies have a social character, they are aimed at guaranteeing social well-being. In general, they are applied to larger groups of people, with the aim of bringing benefits and more equality to their target audience.

Examples : programs aimed at income distribution and determination of progressive tax collection proportional to the amounts earned.

Also read about the meaning of the welfare state .

Regulatory Policies

They are policies used to organize the functioning of the State and may involve rules related to bureaucratic processes or norms of citizens’ behavior. They are more comprehensive as they can be targeted at many people. That is, unlike the previous ones, they are not related only to certain groups of people.

Examples : rules that regulate the use and sale of products and the mandatory use of a special chair for the transportation of children.

Constitutive Policies

These measures are different from the others. They regulate the procedures and rules related to public policies themselves in aspects such as: the correct form of public policy elaboration and the determination of who is responsible for the elaboration of measures.

Examples : rules of operation of the elections and the form of distribution of funds that will be used for the public policies created.

Public policies in Brazil

In Brazil, policies are designed by analyzing needs and by citizen participation. Most governments offer the possibility for people to indicate what needs are most urgent in their region.

This can be done in several ways. The federal government, for example, launches opinion polls to find out what the population wants.

Complementary law No. 101/2000 determined that, in order to guarantee transparency in management, governments must encourage citizens to participate in public hearings that discuss measures.

States and municipalities also make this type of consultation. To learn how to participate, it is necessary to seek information from regional governments.

Public manager

The public manager is one of the professionals working in this area, he is a professional specializing in public policy management. With specific training in this subject, he may be responsible for activities such as:

  • evaluate the areas where there is a need to create public policies,
  • plan and create public policy measures,
  • monitor and evaluate the results of the implemented measures.

How are public policies created?

The creation and planning of these actions are the responsibility of the administration of a government, after identifying the needs that must be met.

Definition of public policies

The definition of priority policies takes place through a process that contains several steps. See what they are:

  1. identification of problems that need their own public policy,
  2. definition of the problems that should be dealt with more urgently,
  3. assessment of which measures are feasible and suitable for application,
  4. definition of the measures to be implemented,
  5. implementation of the public policies created,
  6. observation of the results obtained with the measurements,
  7. extinction of the measure, for lack of effect or for having solved the issue.

After policies are created, they are included in the multi-annual plan, a document that sets out what the government’s goals and actions are for the next four years.


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