Voting on the environment: Price or ideology? Evidence from Swiss referendums
Studies on preferences for environmental quality usually posit that price and income explain most of the observed choices. Incorporating recent advances in the economics of non-selfish behavior into the traditional public choice approach, we argue that the willingness to contribute to public goods as well as social norms need to be taken into account when analyzing environmental voting outcomes. We study aggregate results of three ballot proposals in Switzerland put to vote in the year 2000 which foresaw different tax schemes on fossil energy. Our main results show that the aggregate level choice pattern is to be explained by income as well as structural attributes that make costs and benefits of the projects vary. More importantly, our results underline the importance of including variables pertaining to the notion of ideology, both in terms of statistical fit and obtaining unbiased estimates for price and income determinants.
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