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

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  • Monika Bütler

    ()

  • 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://www1.vwa.unisg.ch/RePEc/usg/dp2007/DP04-Bu.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen in its series University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2007 with number 2007-04.

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Length: 57 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:usg:dp2007:2007-04

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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. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2007. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1187-1234, 08.
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  3. Andreoni, James, 1995. "Warm-Glow versus Cold-Prickle: The Effects of Positive and Negative Framing on Cooperation in Experiments," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-21, February.
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  5. Marianne Bertrand & Dean Karlin & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," NBER Working Papers 11892, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Jeffrey Milyo & Tim Groseclose, 2005. "A Measure of Media Bias," Working Papers 0501, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 25 Aug 2005.
  7. Fagley, N. S. & Miller, Paul M., 1997. "Framing Effects and Arenas of Choice: Your Money or Your Life?," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 71(3), pages 355-373, September.
  8. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
  9. 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, vol. 76(2), pages 149-188, November.
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  12. Timothy J. Fedderson & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences," Discussion Papers 1195, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  13. Gerber, Alan & Karlan, Dean & Bergan, Daniel, 2006. "Does The Media Matter? A Field Experiment Measuring the Effect of Newspapers on Voting Behavior and Political Opinions," Working Papers 12, Yale University, Department of Economics.
  14. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  15. Brennan, Geoffrey & Hamlin, Alan, 1998. " Expressive Voting and Electoral Equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 149-75, April.
  16. Sunghan Kim & David Goldstein & Lynn Hasher & Rose T. Zacks, 2005. "Framing Effects in Younger and Older Adults," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 60(4), pages P215-P218.
  17. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2010. "What Drives Media Slant? Evidence From U.S. Daily Newspapers," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 78(1), pages 35-71, 01.
  18. Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004. "Voting when money and morals conflict: an experimental test of expressive voting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(7-8), pages 1645-1664, July.
  19. Piketty, Thomas, 2000. "Voting as Communicating," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 169-91, January.
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  21. Tversky, Amos & Kahneman, Daniel, 1986. "Rational Choice and the Framing of Decisions," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 59(4), pages S251-78, October.
  22. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  23. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
  24. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
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As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  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. Alejandra Cattaneo & Stefan C. Wolter, 2007. "Are the Elderly a Threat to Educational Expenditures?," CESifo Working Paper Series 2089, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Patricia Funk, 2012. "How accurate are surveyed preferences for public policies? Evidence from a unique institutional setup," Economics Working Papers 1334, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

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