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Unawareness and indifference to economic reform among the public: evidence from India’s power sector reform

Listed author(s):
  • Chao-yo Cheng

    (University of California)

  • Johannes Urpelainen

    ()

    (Columbia University)

Registered author(s):

    Abstract Although economic reform generates winners and losers, many people have no opinion whatsoever about it. Because most empirical research ignores these non-responses, the conventional wisdom on the determinants of support for economic reform ignores large groups of silent citizens. To correct this problem, we present a stylized model that accounts for support, opposition, indifference, and unawareness about reform. We argue that informed people and those who perceive the status quo as dysfunctional will form an opinion more readily than others. For evidence, we examine public opinion about electricity privatization from a large field survey in rural India. We find that information and perceived inefficiency have much larger effects on the likelihood of forming an opinion than on the direction of that opinion (yes or no), emphasizing the importance of accounting for opinion formation process. In this case, information and perceived inefficiency make reform a salient issue to a passive public, most of whom become vocal opponents of reform.

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    File URL: http://link.springer.com/10.1007/s10101-015-0179-4
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    Article provided by Springer in its journal Economics of Governance.

    Volume (Year): 17 (2016)
    Issue (Month): 3 (August)
    Pages: 211-239

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:ecogov:v:17:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1007_s10101-015-0179-4
    DOI: 10.1007/s10101-015-0179-4
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.springer.com

    Order Information: Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/10101/PS2

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    1. Joseph, Kelli L., 2010. "The politics of power: Electricity reform in India," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(1), pages 503-511, January.
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    8. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    9. Thakur, Tripta & Deshmukh, S. G. & Kaushik, S. C. & Kulshrestha, Mukul, 2005. "Impact assessment of the Electricity Act 2003 on the Indian power sector," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(9), pages 1187-1198, June.
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    11. Robert Jensen & Emily Oster, 2009. "The Power of TV: Cable Television and Women's Status in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 124(3), pages 1057-1094.
    12. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    13. Michaël Aklin & Patrick Bayer & S. Harish & Johannes Urpelainen, 2014. "Information and energy policy preferences: a survey experiment on public opinion about electricity pricing reform in rural India," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 305-327, November.
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    15. Baskaran, Thushyanthan & Min, Brian & Uppal, Yogesh, 2015. "Election cycles and electricity provision: Evidence from a quasi-experiment with Indian special elections," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 64-73.
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