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Public Opinion Formation in Policy Issues. An evolutionary approach


  • F. Fatas-Villafranca


We seek to shed new light on the social process of political opinion formation from an evolutionary perspective.We propose a model in which heterogeneous citizens collectively learn and modify their opinions about the most convenient size of public expenditure for the economy. In Section 1, we argue that approaching political processes from an evolutionary perspective may overcome certain theoretical shortcomings in public choice theory and in evolutionary economics. In Section 2, we claim that several features should be considered by an evolutionary approach to political processes: bounded rationality and heterogeneity on the part of agents,normative learning as a socially contingent process, and public opinion formation as an emergent social property. We devote Section 3 to propose a model based on section 2. The dynamic analysis in Section 4 reveals the existence of two regimes characterized by different dynamics for public opinion. Depending on the parametric values, either public opinion displays persistence and ongoing endogenous transformation in a more or less complex way, or it stabilizes in a rather homogenous state of opinion. Section 5 discusses to what extent the range of political opinions supported in a society may influence the complexity of the political process, affecting the time evolution of public expenditure which can turn into a chaotic regime, generating erratic dynamics of the public opinion evolution. Finally we present some conclusions.

Suggested Citation

  • F. Fatas-Villafranca, 2004. "Public Opinion Formation in Policy Issues. An evolutionary approach," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 28, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf4:28

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jan Fagerberg, 2003. "Schumpeter and the revival of evolutionary economics: an appraisal of the literature," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-159, April.
    2. Mueller, Dennis C, 1976. "Public Choice: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 14(2), pages 395-433, June.
    3. Richard R. Nelson, 1995. "Recent Evolutionary Theorizing about Economic Change," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 33(1), pages 48-90, March.
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    More about this item


    Political economy; evolutionary economics; collective learning; replicator dynamics; chaotic dynamics;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination

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