Examples of public policy are minimum wage laws, public assistance programs and the Affordable Care Act. The definition of public policy is the laws, priorities and governmental actions that reflect the attitudes and rules for the public. A public policy is not simply a law or regulation passed by the government. Instead, public policy encompasses the beliefs and attitudes that result in the passage of a law or regulation.
There are four main types of public policy: distributive, redistributive, regulative and constituent. Distributive policies are often created in response to a specific issue and affect only a select group of people. For example, regulations passed by the Environmental Protection Agency impact certain manufacturers more than other kinds of businesses. Although a distributive policy affects only certain groups, the benefits can be extended to larger groups of people, as is the case when environmental regulations improve air quality. On the other hand, redistributive policies affect the majority. For example, the Affordable Care Act is a redistributive policy.
Regulative policies are often applied to businesses and corporations. For example, laws regarding the status of monopolies in a particular industry are examples of regulatory policies. The last kind of public policy, constituent public policy, is similar to a regulatory policy. However, a constituent policy results in a regulatory law, and it also determines how the public funds the law's efforts.