Sarah Elizabeth Larson


801 West Michigan Street
BS 4032T
Indianapolis, Indiana
46202 |  Visit Personal Website

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My broad research focus is on what factors lead to the creation of policy outcomes, whether those factors are politically or economically driven. In what cases are policy outcomes created through symbolic means acceptable? If symbolic or expressive interests drive policy, when is that ok or harmful? When does symbolic political competition lead to the creation of “bad” policy? I focus on revenue tax policy, as tax policy debated simultaneously attract discussions of economic merits and of symbolic rationales. My research deals with with the effects of e-commerce sales and use tax legislation, often known as “” laws. Specifically, the unique set of circumstances regarding the various versions of “” legislation passed by states in the United States provides an excellent laboratory for testing of the two competing theories of public choice theory. In addition, it provides an example to test the theories found within the policy diffusion literature, as states have employed variations of enforcement time tables and methods.

Larson, Sarah, Justin Ross and Chad Wall. 2012. “Are Surveys of Experts Unbiased? Evidence from College Football Rankings.” Contemporary Economic Policy 50 (4):502-522.
Abstract: Policymakers are frequently interested in soliciting unbiased information regarding alternative policies, and expert surveys can be influential. As ranking policies is an often subjective process, there is always the concern of bias, both intentional and not. Expert bias is difficult to discern in the policy world, but surveys of expert opinion are compiled and “tested” for accuracy weekly in college football, allowing for hypothesis testing. Although previous research has used college football rankings to determine the ability of surveys to incorporate relevant information, this article examines the Associated Press and American Football Coaches' Association rankings for evidence of systematic bias. Specifically, more than 1,300 games from the 2003 to 2008 regular seasons are tested for factors that are systematically correlated with upsets. Both polls predict the winner nearly 80% of the time, and although there is evidence of systematic conference bias, correcting the rankings would only improve the accuracy of the polls by about 1%. There is no evidence of a bias favoring “big market” teams, nor teams that have strong journalism programs or are from the East Coast.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-7287.2011.00275.x

Substantive Focus:
Economic Policy PRIMARY

Theoretical Focus:
Agenda-Setting, Adoption, and Implementation SECONDARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY
Public Opinion