IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/tpr/restat/v98y2016i3p442-454.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

How Accurate Are Surveyed Preferences for Public Policies? Evidence from a Unique Institutional Setup

Author

Listed:
  • Patricia Funk

    (Università della Svizzera Italiana and Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Abstract

Opinion polls and other surveys are used to capture public sentiments on a variety of issues. If citizens are unwilling to reveal certain policy preferences to others, surveys may fail to characterize population preferences accurately. The innovation of this paper is to use unique data that allow one to measure biases in surveyed preferences for a broad range of public policies. I combine data on 184 referenda held in Switzerland between 1987 and 2007 with postballot surveys that ask how the citizens voted for each proposal. The difference between stated preferences in the survey and revealed preferences at the ballot box provides a direct measure of survey bias. I find that these biases vary by policy area, with the largest occurring in policies on immigration, international integration, and votes involving liberal or conservative attitudes. Also, citizens show a tendency to respond in accordance with the majority.

Suggested Citation

  • Patricia Funk, 2016. "How Accurate Are Surveyed Preferences for Public Policies? Evidence from a Unique Institutional Setup," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 442-454, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:98:y:2016:i:3:p:442-454
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/REST_a_00585
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

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

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Stefano DellaVigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier, 2012. "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(1), pages 1-56.
    2. Monika Buetler & Michel André Maréchal, 2007. "Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence from a Natural Voting Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 1940, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Lundquist, Tobias & Ellingsen, Tore & Gribbe, Erik & Johannesson, Magnus, 2009. "The aversion to lying," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 70(1-2), pages 81-92, May.
    4. Alberto Alesina & Nicola Fuchs-Schundeln, 2005. "Good bye Lenin (or not?): The effect of Communism on people's preferences," Harvard Institute of Economic Research Working Papers 2076, Harvard - Institute of Economic Research.
    5. Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti, 2009. "Peers at Work," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 112-145, March.
    6. Bernheim, B Douglas, 1994. "A Theory of Conformity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(5), pages 841-877, October.
    7. Stephen Morris, 2001. "Political Correctness," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(2), pages 231-265, April.
    8. Besley, Timothy & Coate, Stephen, 2008. "Issue Unbundling via Citizens' Initiatives," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(4), pages 379-397, December.
    9. Uri Gneezy, 2005. "Deception: The Role of Consequences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 384-394, March.
    10. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "People's opium? Religion and economic attitudes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 225-282, January.
    11. Patricia Funk, 2010. "Social Incentives and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the Swiss Mail Ballot System," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1077-1103, September.
    12. repec:cup:apsrev:v:102:y:2008:i:01:p:33-48_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Felix Arnold & Ronny Freier & Magdalena Pallauf & David Stadelmann, 2016. "Voting for direct democratic participation: evidence from an initiative election," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(4), pages 716-740, August.
    2. Adriel Jost, 2018. "Cultural Differences in Monetary Policy Preferences," Working Papers 2018-02, Swiss National Bank.
    3. Kevin Denny & Cormac Ó Gráda, 2016. "Immigration, Asylum, and Gender: Ireland and Beyond," Working Papers 201604, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    4. Francisco Pino, 2014. "Is There Gender Bias Among Voters ?Evidence from the Chilean Congressional Elections," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2014-53, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Survey Accuracy; Opinion Polls; Preference Falsification; Direct Democracy;

    JEL classification:

    • D03 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Behavioral Microeconomics: Underlying Principles
    • Z - Other Special Topics

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:tpr:restat:v:98:y:2016:i:3:p:442-454. 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: (Ann Olson). General contact details of provider: https://www.mitpressjournals.org/ .

    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.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with 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.