The “economic” (Chicago School) theory of regulation fails to explain many important features of regulatory history in the USA, such as the periodicity of regulatory innovation, the role of the organized consumer movement, and the roots of reform, including deregulation. J.Q. Wilson′s political theory of regulation accounts for these phenomena when interpreted in historical context. The widely‐held social values of Wilson′s theory are identified with the values articulated by the consumer movement. This theory suggests that regulation can indeed serve the public interest as understood from the perspective of consumerist values.
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