Patrick Flavin

Associate Professor of Political Science, Baylor University

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About Patrick

Flavin studies unequal political influence in the United States and what laws and institutional arrangements can promote greater political equality and democratic inclusion. He is also interested in how politics and public policies impact citizens’ quality of life.


What Kinds of Public Policies Promote Human Happiness?

    Benjamin Radcliff

In the News

Patrick Flavin's research on public spending discussed by Robby Berman, "The States with the Happiest Americans Spend More Money on ‘Public Goods’," Big Think, January 10, 2019.
Patrick Flavin's research on public spending discussed by Tom Jacobs, "New Research Suggests Government Spending Can Spread Happiness," Pacific Standard, November 29, 2018.
"Our Electoral System is Bad for Happiness," Patrick Flavin (with Benjamin Radcliff), Pyschology Today, September 29, 2016.
Guest to discuss the polls at the primary state in the campaign process on KCEN TV, Patrick Flavin, August 6, 2015.
Patrick Flavin quoted on the effects of unions on member and nonmember voter turnout by Sean McElwee, "One Big Reason for Voter Turnout Decline and Income Inequality: Smaller Unions" American Prospect, January 30, 2015.
Patrick Flavin's research on the benefits of being a union member discussed by John Guida, "Want to Be Happy? Join a Union," New York Times, January 13, 2015.
Patrick Flavin's research on equality in political representation discussed by Abigail Loop, "Professor Links Representation to Wealth, Lobbying," Baylor Lariat, October 22, 2014.
Patrick Flavin's research on what makes state governments responsive to citizens discussed by Sean McElwee, "How to Destroy Oligopoly," Huffington Post, June 21, 2014.
Guest to discuss political inequality on Scholars’ Circle, Patrick Flavin, November 15, 2013.
Patrick Flavin's research on the racial education achievement gap discussed by Rebecca Klein, "Achievement Gap Study Suggests Legislators Only Take Action When White Students Fail," Huffington Post, July 11, 2013.
Guest to discuss happiness and political participation on The Insana Quotient, Patrick Flavin, April 12, 2011.


"The Political Foundations of the Black-White Education Achievement Gap" (with Michael Hartney). American Politics Research 42, no. 1 (2014): 3-33.
Finds that state policymakers enact teacher quality reforms when white students are performing poorly, but there is no comparative response when African American students are performing poorly. We then probe a possible mechanism of this finding and show that one reason policymakers are more responsive to white student achievement is because regular voters base their evaluations of school quality and whether reforms are needed almost exclusively on the basis of how white students are performing.
"Assessing the Impact of the Size and Scope of Government on Human Well-Being" (with Alexander C. Pacek and Benjamin Radcliff). Social Forces 92, no. 4 (2014): 1241-1258.
Assesses the effect of public policy regimes in industrial democracies on self-reported life satisfaction (using the World Values Survey) to find that, controlling for a host of other common predictors of life satisfaction, respondents are more satisfied with their lives as the degree of government intervention into the economy increases. We also find that all citizens, rich and poor alike, report higher levels of life satisfaction as the degree of government intervention into the economy increases and interpret this as strong evidence that government public policy decisions have an important effect on citizens’ quality of life.
"Income Inequality and Policy Representation in the American States" American Politics Research 40, no. 1 (2012): 29-59.
Investigates differential policy representation based on citizens’ household incomes and finds that citizens with low incomes receive little substantive political representation (compared to more affluent citizens) in the policy decisions made by their state governments. This unequal policy representation occurs for both the general liberalism of state policies and on specific social issues like the death penalty and abortion.
"Racial Differences in Information, Expectations, and Accountability" (with John D. Griffin). Journal of Politics 69, no. 1 (2007): 220-236.

Finds that the political opinions of white citizens are better represented in the roll call votes of their legislators than the political opinions of African American citizens and that this inequality in representation is explained by the fact that African Americans are less likely to hold legislators accountable for shirking and less likely to know about their legislator’s voting record.