Investing in the Future of Mobility: The Role of US Local Governments in Building EV Infrastructure

In-Person Event

CGIS in K354, Knafel building
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EDT

Register *For individuals with a Harvard ID only

You’re invited to join Elisabeth Gerber, Jack L. Walker, Jr. Collegiate Professor of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, for an American Politics Speaker Series discussion sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Center for American Political Studies.

Registration is encouraged but not required. This event series will not be recorded.

This event is open to Harvard ID holders only. Lunch will be served.


As US local governments take on increasingly important roles in building out the public infrastructure required to support a large-scale shift to electric vehicles, what factors motivate their decisions? Are they primarily responsive to bottom-up pressures from within their jurisdictions, or are they more responsive to top-down incentives and constraints from the state and national governments? We develop a theory of local government decision-making that situates government decision-makers at the intersection of both top-down (from other levels of government) and bottom-up (from within their own level of government) pressures. We test hypotheses about the drivers of local government decision-making with data from a recent survey of local government officials. We find that positive bottom-up pressures from local constituents, as well as positive top-down incentives from state governments to a lesser degree, are the largest drivers of local government actions. Negative constituent pressures and federal government incentives are much less important. These results shed new light on the role of local governments in infrastructure investment decision-making and call into question the common wisdom about the negative power of interest groups in public policymaking.

About the Series

The American Politics Speaker Series (APSS) aims to bring together scholars who are doing research on these and other important questions. Hosted jointly with the Center for American Political Studies and chaired by Professors Benjamin Schneer and Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, each session will highlight a scholar whose research is at the forefront of the study of American politics.

Event Details

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