You are here

American Public Policy

American Public Policy
Promise and Performance

Eleventh Edition

August 2018 | 548 pages | CQ Press

“This is an in-depth yet quite accessible overlook of public policy in the United States…With this updated version, Peters’ text keeps up with the ever-changing world of American public policy while still giving students the tools to better understand this process.”
—Michael E. Bednarczuk, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This updated edition of American Public Policy provides a comprehensive yet accessible overview of the policy-making process from procedural approaches and policy instruments to in-depth analysis of specific policy issues. The Eleventh Edition considers how policy has been impacted by recent economic and political developments. Not shying away from the complexity of governmental procedure, Peters ensures that the mechanisms of the policy process are understandable through insightful discussions of topical policy areas. 

Give your students the SAGE edge!

SAGE edge offers a robust online environment featuring an impressive array of free tools and resources for review, study, and further exploration, keeping both instructors and students on the cutting edge of teaching and learning. Learn more at

Bundle American Public Policy, 11e with any of the following texts for only $5 more! 

I. The Nature of Public Policy
1. What is Public Policy?
Defining Public Policy  
The Instruments of Public Policy  
The Environment of Public Policy  
2. The Structure of Policymaking in American Government
Separation of Powers  
The Size and Shape of the Public Sector  
3. Explaining Policy Choices
Power and Public Policy  
The Policy Process—The Stages Model  
Institutional Models of Policy  
Advocacy-Coalition Framework  
Policy Causes Politics  
Constructivist Models  
II. The Making of Public Policy
4. Agenda Setting and Public Policy  
Agenda Setting  
Who Sets Agendas?  
From Problem to Issue: How to Get Problems on the Agenda  
Focusing Events  
Policy Formulation  
Policy Design  
5. Legitimating Policy Choices
Legislative Legitimation  
Regulations and the Administrative Process  
The Courts  
Popular Legitimation  
6. Organizations and Implementation
Dramatis Personae  
The Organizational Setting  
7. Budgeting: Allocation and Public Policy
Characteristics of the Federal Budget  
Problems in the Budget Process  
The Overhang  
Reforming Budgeting: Large-Scale Approaches in the 1960s and 1970s  
From Scalpels to Axes: Budget Reform from the 1980s to the 2000s  
8. Evaluation and Policy Change
Problems in Evaluating Public Programs  
Policy Change  
III. Substantive Policy Issues
9. Economic Policy
The Goals of Economic Policy  
The Instruments of Economic Policy  
10. Tax Policy
Public Opinion and Taxation  
Choices in Tax Policy  
The Politics of Tax Reform  
11. Health Care Policies
Problems in Health Care  
The Affordable Care Act of 2010  
Public Programs in Health Care  
Health Care Regulation  
Options for National Health Insurance  
12. Social Security and Welfare
Social Insurance  
Means-Tested Programs  
The Persistence of Poverty in the United States  
13. Education Policy
The Federal Government's Role in Education  
Issues of Education Policy  
14. Energy and the Environment
Energy Sources  
The Formation of Energy Policy  
Environmental Politics  
Implementation of Environmental Controls  
15. Defense and Law Enforcement
Defense Policy  
Problems of Defense Policy  
Law Enforcement  
Issues in Law Enforcement Policy  
16. Social Values and Public Policy
Abortion and Reproductive Rights  
Gay Rights: Politics Comes Out of the Closet  
The Separation of Church and State: School Prayer and Other Issues  
Legalization of Marijuana  
IV. Analyzing Public Policy
17. Policy Analysis: Cost-Benefit Analysis and Ethical Analysis
Cost-Benefit Analysis  
Ethical Analysis of Public Policy  

“This is an in-depth yet quite accessible overlook of public policy in the United States…With this updated version, Peters’ text keeps up with the ever-changing world of American public policy while still giving students the tools to better understand this process.”

Michael E. Bednarczuk
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

“American Public Policy delivers its readers a well-organized and highly accessible overview of the field of public policy. By striking an effective balance of public policy theory, real-world data, and historical examples, Peters’ text has become an essential component of my introductory public policy courses.”

Thomas W. Haase
Sam Houston State University

“American public policy is one of the most detailed and compelling text on domestic public policy on the market.”

Linda M. Trautman
Ohio University – Lancaster

“This text is accessibly written without being overly-simplistic, thorough without being too weighty, and it discusses issues relevant to modern students of American public policy.”

Zach Wilhide
Old Dominion University

“Peters’ text is a comprehensive approach to the process, substance, and context of policymaking. In an era where politics seemingly trumps the study of policy as an academic field, Peters shows his reader the technical aspects of policymaking and the theories underlying policy decisions. At the same time, Peters makes the topics approachable to students from many personal and academic backgrounds.”

Andrea M. Jacks
Arizona State University
Key features


  • New content covering budget reforms, deficit control, 2017 tax legislation, police brutality and President Trump’s trade policies.
  • Updated tables and charts ensure students have access to the latest data in the field. 
  • New and updated photos illustrate important points.
  • SAGE edge provides students helpful tools, including eFlashcards, practice quizzes, and more, in one easy-to-use online environment. 



  • Evaluates a variety of approaches to the policymaking process, including institutional, economic, constructivist, and stages models, along with concepts such as the advocacy coalition framework, bounded rationality, and instrumentalism.
  • Introduces two forms of policy analysis—one that depends on economic assumptions and attempts to make government more efficient and cost-effective; another that focuses on the normative element of public policy— that help readers begin to develop an answer to the question “What is good policy?”
  • Background sections at the beginning of each chapter provide valuable context. 
  • Chapter Summaries help students focus on key takeaways.

Preview this book

For instructors

Select a Purchasing Option

ISBN: 9781506399584