IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Public Protests and Policy Making


  • Marco Battaglini


Technological advances and the development of social media have made petitions, public protests, and other form of spontaneous activism increasingly common tools for individuals to influence decision makers. To study these phenomena, in this article I present a theory of petitions and public protests that explores their limits as mechanisms to aggregate information. The key assumption is that valuable information is dispersed among citizens. Through petitions and protests, citizens can signal their private information to the policy maker, who can then choose to use it or not. I first show that if citizens’ individual signals are not sufficiently precise, information aggregation is impossible, no matter how large is the population of informed citizens, even if the conflict with the policy maker is small. I then characterize the conditions on conflict and the signal structure that guarantee information aggregation. When these conditions are satisfied, I show that full information aggregation is possible as the population grows to infinity. When they are not satisfied, I show that information aggregation may still be possible if social media are available.

Suggested Citation

  • Marco Battaglini, 2017. "Public Protests and Policy Making," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(1), pages 485-549.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:132:y:2017:i:1:p:485-549.

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mathis Wagner, 2009. "The Heterogeneous Labor Market Effects of Immigration," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 131, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
    2. Joan Llull, 2012. "Immigration, Wages, and Education: a Labor Market Equilibrium Structural Model," 2012 Meeting Papers 366, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Lichter, Andreas & Peichl, Andreas & Siegloch, Sebastian, 2015. "The own-wage elasticity of labor demand: A meta-regression analysis," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 80(C), pages 94-119.
    4. Susanne Prantl & Alexandra Spitz-Oener, 2013. "Interacting Product and Labor Market Regulation and the Impact of Immigration on Native Wages," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2013_22, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    5. Michael Moritz, 2011. "The Impact of Czech Commuters on the German Labour Market," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2011(1), pages 40-58.
    6. MaCurdy, Thomas E, 1981. "An Empirical Model of Labor Supply in a Life-Cycle Setting," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(6), pages 1059-1085, December.
    7. Mansour, Hani, 2010. "The effects of labor supply shocks on labor market outcomes: Evidence from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 17(6), pages 930-939, December.
    8. Leah Platt Boustan & Price V. Fishback & Shawn Kantor, 2010. "The Effect of Internal Migration on Local Labor Markets:American Cities during the Great Depression," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 28(4), pages 719-746, October.
    9. Enrico Moretti, 2014. "Local Economic Development, Agglomeration Economies, and the Big Push: 100 Years of Evidence from the Tennessee Valley Authority," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 275-331.
    10. Marco Manacorda & Alan Manning & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2012. "The Impact Of Immigration On The Structure Of Wages: Theory And Evidence From Britain," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 120-151, February.
    11. Abdurrahman Aydemir & George J. Borjas, 2011. "Attenuation Bias in Measuring the Wage Impact of Immigration," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 29(1), pages 69-113, January.
    12. Christian Dustmann & Tommaso Frattini & Anna Rosso, 2015. "The Effect of Emigration from Poland on Polish Wages," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 117(2), pages 522-564, April.
    13. Brian C. Cadena & Brian K. Kovak, 2016. "Immigrants Equilibrate Local Labor Markets: Evidence from the Great Recession," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 8(1), pages 257-290, January.
    14. Joan Monras, 2015. "Immigration and Wage Dynamics: Evidence from the Mexican Peso Crisis," Sciences Po Economics Discussion Papers 2015-04, Sciences Po Departement of Economics.
    15. Cohen Goldner, Sarit & Paserman, M. Daniele, 2004. "Mass Migration to Israel and Natives' Transitions from Employment," IZA Discussion Papers 1319, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    16. Abadie, Alberto & Diamond, Alexis & Hainmueller, Jens, 2010. "Synthetic Control Methods for Comparative Case Studies: Estimating the Effect of California’s Tobacco Control Program," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 105(490), pages 493-505.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Monica Anna Giovanniello, 2017. "Echo Chambers: Voter-to-Voter Communication and Political Competition," 2017 Papers pgi364, Job Market Papers.
    2. repec:spr:sochwe:v:49:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1067-3 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:132:y:2017:i:1:p:485-549.. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Oxford University Press) or (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.