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Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence From a Natural Voting Experiment

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  • Bütler, Monika
  • Maréchal, Michel André

Abstract

This paper analyzes a recent ballot in which two virtually identical popular initiatives, both demanding a decrease in the legal age of retirement in Switzerland, led to differences in approval rates of nearly seven percentage points. Based on this unique natural experiment, the existence of emphasis framing effects is tested for and their determinants are identified outside of the controlled settings of laboratories. Nonetheless, the analyzed setting allows for considerably more control than usually available in the field: All party, government and interest group recommendations were symmetric for both initiatives, and the simultaneous vote rules out potential variation of individual preferences and compositional changes of the electorate over time. Using community and individual level data it is shown that the difference in approval rates is largely due to the different emphases in the initiatives' titles.

Suggested Citation

  • Bütler, Monika & Maréchal, Michel André, 2007. "Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence From a Natural Voting Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 6200, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6200
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Andrea Baranzini & Stefano Carattini, 2017. "Effectiveness, earmarking and labeling: testing the acceptability of carbon taxes with survey data," Environmental Economics and Policy Studies, Springer;Society for Environmental Economics and Policy Studies - SEEPS, vol. 19(1), pages 197-227, January.
    2. Cattaneo, M. Alejandra & Wolter, Stefan C., 2009. "Are the elderly a threat to educational expenditures?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 25(2), pages 225-236, June.
    3. Vardan, Baghdasaryan & Giovanna, Iannantuoni & Valeria, Maggian, 2015. "Electoral fraud and voter turnout," Working Papers 315, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised 25 Nov 2015.
    4. Patricia Funk, 2012. "How accurate are surveyed preferences for public policies? Evidence from a unique institutional setup," Economics Working Papers 1334, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Nov 2013.
    5. 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.
    6. Kuehnhanss, Colin R. & Heyndels, Bruno & Hilken, Katharina, 2015. "Choice in politics: Equivalency framing in economic policy decisions and the influence of expertise," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 360-374.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    bounded rationality; direct democracy; framing effect; natural experiment; pension reform; voting;

    JEL classification:

    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H55 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Social Security and Public Pensions

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