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Does Information Increase Political Support for Pension Reform?

  • Boeri, Tito
  • Tabellini, Guido

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 C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 5319.

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Date of creation: Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5319
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  1. Author-Name: Alan S. Blinder & Alan B. Krueger, 2004. "What Does the Public Know about Economic Policy, and How Does It Know It?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(1), pages 327-397.
  2. 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.
  3. Tabellini, Guido, 2000. " A Positive Theory of Social Security," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 102(3), pages 523-45, June.
  4. César Martinelli, 2004. "Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000593, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Valentino Larcinese, 2007. "Does political knowledge increase turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British general election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 387-411, June.
  6. 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.
  7. Alan Gerber & Daniel Bergan & Dean Karlan, 2006. "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.
  8. Tim Krieger, 2006. "Public pensions and return migration," Working Papers CIE 2, University of Paderborn, CIE Center for International Economics.
  9. repec:bla:restud:v:76:y:2009:i:3:p:1023-1048 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Alessandro Gavazza & Alessandro Lizzeri, 2009. "Transparency and Economic Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 76(3), pages 1023-1048.
  13. 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.
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