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The survival of interest groups: evidence from Germany

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-10-18, 13:15 authored by Heike Klüver

Interest groups are important intermediary organisations that function as a transmission belt between societal interests and political decision-makers. However, while some interest groups survive over decades, others only last a few years. This article argues that the survival of interest groups depends on their ability to mobilise resources which is crucially affected by interest group type and the public salience of an interest group’s policy domain. The theoretical expectations are tested based on a novel dataset mapping the survival of 1699 interest groups registered at the German Bundestag between 1974 and 2012. Using event history analysis, it is shown that interest group type and public salience indeed affect whether interest groups survive. Sectional groups last significantly longer than cause groups, and interest group survival increases with the public salience of their policy area. The results have major implications for our understanding of interest groups and political representation in contemporary democracies.


I am grateful to the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (Grant Az. and the British Academy (Grant SG111433) which generously funded research for this article.