Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of Politics

DOI of Published Version



Political scientists usually view the New Deal as transforming the American state. A sizable literature in economics and history, however, has cast doubt on the significance of the changes wrought by the FDR administration. In this paper we propose a model of the state, and then test important hypotheses about it. More specifically, we focus on the New Era-New Deal period to test how, if at all, the American state changed during this critical time in its history. We systematically analyze five state functions: stabilization, redistribution, regulation, police power, and administration. Within each category, quantitative policy measures are evaluated. Although the FDR administration produced many notable changes in government policy and structure, our analysis suggests that the American state, measured in these several ways, was not transformed from the New Era to the New Deal.

Journal Article Version

Version of Record

Published Article/Book Citation

The Journal of Politics, 53:1 (1991) pp. 106-121.


Copyright © 1991 Southern Political Science Association. Used by permission.