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Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence from a Natural Voting Experiment

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  • Monika Buetler
  • Michel André Maréchal

Abstract

This paper analyzes a recent ballot in which two virtually identical popular initiatives, both demanding a decrease in the legal age of retirement in Switzerland, led to differences in approval rates of nearly seven percentage points. Based on this unique natural experiment, the existence of emphasis framing effects is tested for and their determinants are identified outside of the controlled settings of laboratories. Nonetheless, the analyzed setting allows for considerably more control than usually available in the field: All party, government and interest group recommendations were symmetric for both initiatives, and the simultaneous vote rules out potential variation of individual preferences and compositional changes of the electorate over time. Using community and individual level data it is shown that the difference in approval rates is largely due to the different emphases in the initiatives’ titles.

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File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/portal/page/portal/DocBase_Content/WP/WP-CESifo_Working_Papers/wp-cesifo-2007/wp-cesifo-2007-03/cesifo1_wp1940.pdf
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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 1940.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_1940

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Related research

Keywords: framing effect; voting; direct democracy; pension reform; bounded rationality; natural experiment;

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References

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  1. Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer, 2004. "Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? -- Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 119(1_2), pages 31-59, 04.
  2. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234, 08.
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  4. Levin, Irwin P. & Schneider, Sandra L. & Gaeth, Gary J., 1998. "All Frames Are Not Created Equal: A Typology and Critical Analysis of Framing Effects," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 76(2), pages 149-188, November.
  5. Marianne Bertrand & Dean S. Karlan & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," Working Papers, Economic Growth Center, Yale University 918, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  6. Bertrand, Marianne & Karlan, Dean & Mullainathan, Sendhil & Shafir, Eldar & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "What's Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment," Working Papers, Yale University, Department of Economics 58, Yale University, Department of Economics.
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  15. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
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  20. Druckman, James N, 2001. "Using Credible Advice to Overcome Framing Effects," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(1), pages 62-82, April.
  21. Jeffrey Milyo & Tim Groseclose, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," Working Papers, Department of Economics, University of Missouri 0501, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 25 Aug 2005.
  22. Grether, David M. & Plott, Charles R., . "Economic Theory of Choice and the Preference Reversal Phenomenon," Working Papers, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences 152, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  23. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
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  1. 214 – The perils of asking people
    by David Pannell in Pannell Discussions on 2012-05-06 19:21:19
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Cited by:
  1. Patricia Funk, 2013. "How Accurate are Surveyed Preferences for Public Policies? Evidence from a Unique Institutional Setup," Working Papers 657, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  2. Patricia Funk, 2012. "How accurate are surveyed preferences for public policies? Evidence from a unique institutional setup," Economics Working Papers, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra 1334, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  3. Alejandra Cattaneo & Stefan C. Wolter, 2007. "Are The Elderly A Threat To Educational Expenditures?," Economics of Education Working Paper Series, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU) 0003, University of Zurich, Institute for Strategy and Business Economics (ISU).

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