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Does information increase political support for pension reform?

  • Tito Boeri

    ()

  • Guido Tabellini

An opinion poll on a representative sample of Italian citizens suggests that it does. We focus on reforms that would lengthen retirement age and/or cut pension benefits. After controlling for individual features of the respondent, we find that individuals who are more informed about the costs and functioning of the Italian pension system are more willing to accept reforms. This result holds also using non-parametric methods, such as propensity-score matching. However, the data also suggest that information is endogenous, and jointly determined with policy opinions. We therefore estimate a causal effect of information, with joint maximum likelihood and instrumental variables. These different methods all confirm a positive and significant causal effect of better information on the willingness to accept reforms that reduce the generosity of the pension system. Finally we do not find that exposure to media coverage of pension issues significantly improves information, possibly because individuals read newspaper articles or watch TV programs on these issues just to confirm their priors.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-010-9706-6
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 150 (2012)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 327-362

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:150:y:2012:i:1:p:327-362
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. Alan Blinder & Alan Krueger, 2004. "What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?," Working Papers 875, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  2. 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.
  3. Tabellini, Guido, 1990. "A Positive Theory of Social Security," CEPR Discussion Papers 394, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  4. Tim Krieger, 2008. "Public pensions and return migration," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 163-178, March.
  5. Valentino Larcinese, 2005. "Does political knowledge increase turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British general election," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3614, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  6. Tito Boeri & Axel Boersch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2002. "Pension Reforms and the Opinions of European Citizens," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 396-401, May.
  7. Browning, Edgar K, 1975. "Why the Social Insurance Budget Is Too Large in a Democracy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(3), pages 373-88, September.
  8. Wang, Lu & Davis, Otto A, 2003. " Freedom and Other Variables in the Choice of Public Pension Systems," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 114(3-4), pages 361-85, March.
  9. César Martinelli, 2004. "Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000593, UCLA Department of Economics.
  10. repec:bla:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:3:p:1023-1048 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Tullio Jappelli & Mario Padula & Renata Bottazzi, 2003. "Retirement Expectations and Pension Reforms," CSEF Working Papers 92, Centre for Studies in Economics and Finance (CSEF), University of Naples, Italy.
  12. Tito Boeri & Axel Börsch-Supan & Guido Tabellini, 2001. "Would you like to shrink the welfare state? A survey of European citizens," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 16(32), pages 7-50, 04.
  13. Alessandro Gavazza & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2009. "Transparency and Economic Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1023-1048.
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