Policy Agendas and Environmental Protection: How Agenda-Setting Matters

30 August 2023, Version 1
This content is an early or alternative research output and has not been peer-reviewed at the time of posting.


Agenda-setting is the initial stage in policymaking. This article investigates whether agenda-setting influences the outcome of the policy process. Based on data from the policy agendas of Chinese provincial governments, our empirical study discovered that more attention to environmental protection in core policy venues could help improve provincial air quality. However, because of limited space on the political agenda and competing issues, an increasing proportion of the issues with the highest priority on the policy agenda are associated with poorer environmental quality, illustrating how “top issues” tend to crowd out environmental concerns. Furthermore, we found no evidence that policymakers’ agendas influence provincial air quality. The findings enrich our understanding of the critical role of agenda-setting in the policy process. More broadly, this study seeks to apply agenda-setting literature and methodology to a one-party state in order to better understand the agenda dynamics.


Policy agenda
environment governance
issue attention
air quality


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