IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/ces/ceswps/_7276.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Complex Ballot Propositions, Individual Voting Behavior, and Status quo Bias

Author

Listed:
  • Zohal Hessami
  • Sven Resnjanskij

    ()

Abstract

One concern about direct democracy is that citizens may not be sufficiently competent to decide about complex policies. This may lead to exaggerated conservatism in the voting decision (status quo bias). To investigate how complexity affects individual voting behavior, we develop a novel measure of proposition complexity (using official pre-referendum booklets) and combine it with post-referendum survey data from Switzerland. Using Heckman selection estimations to account for endogenous variation in participation rates, we find that an increase in proposition complexity from the 10th to the 90th percentile would decrease voters' approval by 5.6 ppts, which is often decisive: an additional 12% of the propositions in our sample would be rejected.

Suggested Citation

  • Zohal Hessami & Sven Resnjanskij, 2018. "Complex Ballot Propositions, Individual Voting Behavior, and Status quo Bias," CESifo Working Paper Series 7276, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7276
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp7276.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M., 2004. "Statistical significance is okay, too: comment on "Size Matters"," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 33(5), pages 577-579, November.
    2. Hofer, Katharina E. & Marti, Christian & Bütler, Monika, 2017. "Ready to reform: How popular initiatives can be successful," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 16-39.
    3. Zohal Hessami, 2016. "How Do Voters React to Complex Choices in a Direct Democracy? Evidence from Switzerland," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(2), pages 263-293, May.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:91:y:1997:i:01:p:1-14_23 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jeffrey M Wooldridge, 2010. "Econometric Analysis of Cross Section and Panel Data," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232588, January.
    6. Heckman, James J, 1978. "Dummy Endogenous Variables in a Simultaneous Equation System," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 46(4), pages 931-959, July.
    7. Eichenberger, Reiner & Serna, Angel, 1996. "Random Errors, Dirty Information, and Politics," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 86(1-2), pages 137-156, January.
    8. Greene, William, 2010. "Testing hypotheses about interaction terms in nonlinear models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 107(2), pages 291-296, May.
    9. 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.
    10. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2015. "Gender gaps in policy making: evidence from direct democracy in Switzerland," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(81), pages 141-181.
    11. Frey, Bruno S, 1994. "Direct Democracy: Politico-economic Lessons from Swiss Experience," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 338-342, May.
    12. 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.
    13. Krishnakumar, Jaya & Müller, Tobias, 2012. "The political economy of immigration in a direct democracy: The case of Switzerland," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 56(2), pages 174-189.
    14. repec:cup:apsrev:v:83:y:1989:i:01:p:217-231_08 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1993. "The Downsian Voter Meets the Ecological Fallacy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 855-878, December.
    16. Van de Ven, Wynand P. M. M. & Van Praag, Bernard M. S., 1981. "The demand for deductibles in private health insurance : A probit model with sample selection," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 229-252, November.
    17. Meier, Armando N. & Schmid, Lukas D. & Stutzer, Alois, 2016. "Rain, Emotions and Voting for the Status Quo," IZA Discussion Papers 10350, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    18. Samuelson, William & Zeckhauser, Richard, 1988. "Status Quo Bias in Decision Making," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 1(1), pages 7-59, March.
    19. Heckman, James, 2013. "Sample selection bias as a specification error," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 31(3), pages 129-137.
    20. Ai, Chunrong & Norton, Edward C., 2003. "Interaction terms in logit and probit models," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 80(1), pages 123-129, July.
    21. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
    22. repec:cup:apsrev:v:45:y:1951:i:02:p:400-421_06 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Freedman, David A. & Sekhon, Jasjeet S., 2010. "Endogeneity in Probit Response Models," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 18(02), pages 138-150, March.
    24. Funk, Patricia & Gathmann, Christina, 2013. "Voter preferences, direct democracy and government spending," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 32(C), pages 300-319.
    25. Eric Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya Washington, 2011. "Economics and Policy Preferences: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 888-906, August.
    26. repec:cup:apsrev:v:88:y:1994:i:01:p:63-76_09 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. Stutzer, Alois & Baltensperger, Michael & Meier, Armando N., 2018. "Overstrained Citizens?," Working papers 2018/25, Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    voting behavior; proposition complexity; direct democracy; status quo bias; Heckman probit model;

    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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    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:ces:ceswps:_7276. 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: (Klaus Wohlrabe). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/cesifde.html .

    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.