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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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Paper provided by David K. Levine in its series Levine's Working Paper Archive with number 784828000000000244.

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Date of creation: 26 Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levarc:784828000000000244
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  1. Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2004. "What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?," Working Papers 103, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  2. 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.
  3. Daniel Bergan & Alan Gerber & Dean Karlan, 2009. "Does the media matter? A field experiment measuring the effect of newspapers on voting behavior and political opinions," Natural Field Experiments 00252, The Field Experiments Website.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. César Martinelli, 2004. "Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000593, UCLA Department of Economics.
  7. Tim Krieger, 2006. "Public pensions and return migration," Working Papers CIE 2, Paderborn University, CIE Center for International Economics.
  8. Valentino Larcinese, 2005. "Does Political Knowledge Increase Turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British General Election," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 01, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  9. 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.
  10. Alessandro Gavazza & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2009. "Transparency and Economic Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1023-1048.
  11. Tabellini, Guido, 2000. " A Positive Theory of Social Security," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(3), pages 523-45, June.
  12. Louviere,Jordan J. & Hensher,David A. & Swait,Joffre D., 2000. "Stated Choice Methods," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521788304, Junio.
  13. 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.
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