Competitive politics, simplified heuristics, and preferences for public goods
This paper examines the role of simplified heuristics in the formation of preferences for public goods. Political scientists have suggested that voters use simplified heuristics based on the positions of familiar parties to infer how a proposed policy will affect them and to cast a vote in line with their interests and values. Here, we use a two-stage field-survey experiment to investigate how knowledge of party positions affects policy choices. We followed standard procedures in developing an attribute-based choice experiment on alternative land-use policies in Switzerland. In contrast to the usual formulation, however, the hypothetical costs of the proposed policies were formulated as a percentage change in taxes. The benefit of this formulation relative to the usual absolute money amounts is that the credibility of the (hypothetical) costs for respondents does not depend on respondent income. Furthermore, the formulation allowed us to solicit party positions on the proposed policies. Six out of eight contacted parties provided their positions. We then conducted a split-sample mail survey where we included a table of the party positions with a sub-sample of the questionnaires. We report six main experimental results. (1) The response rate of the survey was unaffected by the party positions. (2) The proportion of no-choice answers was decreased by forty percent relative to the control. (3) The party information significantly affected the choices directly and in interaction with respondents’ general attitudes towards public spending for nature and landscape conservation and thus affected the way how individuals mapped from general attitudes to preferences for specific policies. (4) The information interacted with educational level in only eight out of forty choice sets, suggesting that even the more educated relied on simplified heuristics. (5) Respondents who knew the party positions were more sensitive to the tax attribute. (6) For respondents with medium and higher tax bills, the resulting willingness-to-pay estimates were decreased by a factor of two to ten relative to the control. These findings suggest that the party information helped the respondents to articulate more consistent preferences than in the treatment without the party information.
|Date of creation:||Sep 2007|
|Date of revision:|
|Publication status:||published in Ecological Economics 65, pp. 574-589, 2008|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: |
Phone: +41-1-634 21 37
Fax: +41-1-634 49 82
Web page: http://www.soi.uzh.ch/
More information through EDIRC
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2002.
"What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 402-435, June.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, 2001. "What Can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," CESifo Working Paper Series 503, CESifo Group Munich.
- Bruno S. Frey & Alois Stutzer, . "What can Economists Learn from Happiness Research?," IEW - Working Papers 080, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
- Schkade David A. & Payne John W., 1994. "How People Respond to Contingent Valuation Questions: A Verbal Protocol Analysis of Willingness to Pay for an Environmental Regulation," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 88-109, January.
- Paul Milgrom & John Roberts, 1986.
"Relying on the Information of Interested Parties,"
RAND Journal of Economics,
The RAND Corporation, vol. 17(1), pages 18-32, Spring.
- Macmillan, Douglas C. & Philip, Lorna & Hanley, Nick & Alvarez-Farizo, Begona, 2002. "Valuing the non-market benefits of wild goose conservation: a comparison of interview and group based approaches," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 49-59, November.
- Patricia A. Champ & Nicholas E. Flores & Thomas C. Brown & PJames Chivers, 2002. "Contingent Valuation and Incentives," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 78(4), pages 591-604.
- Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer, 2004.
"Persuasion in Politics,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 435-439, May.
- Green, Donald & Jacowitz, Karen E. & Kahneman, Daniel & McFadden, Daniel, 1998.
"Referendum contingent valuation, anchoring, and willingness to pay for public goods,"
Resource and Energy Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 20(2), pages 85-116, June.
- Donald Green & Karen Jacowitz & Daniel Kahneman & Daniel McFadden, 1995. "Referendum Contingent Valuation, Anchoring, and Willingness to Pay for Public Goods," Working Papers _010, University of California at Berkeley, Econometrics Laboratory Software Archive.
- Bernard M. S. van Praag & Barbara E. Baarsma, 2005.
"Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise,"
Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(500), pages 224-246, 01.
- van Praag, Bernard M. S. & Baarsma, Barbara E., 2004. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," IZA Discussion Papers 1096, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
- Bernard M.S. van Praag & Barbara E. Baarsma, 2004. "Using Happiness Surveys to Value Intangibles: The Case of Airport Noise," CESifo Working Paper Series 1163, CESifo Group Munich.
- Frey, Bruno S. & Eichenberger, Reiner, 1994. "Economic incentives transform psychological anomalies," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 215-234, March.
- Bergstrom, Theodore C & Rubinfeld, Daniel L & Shapiro, Perry, 1982. "Micro-Based Estimates of Demand Functions for Local School Expenditures," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(5), pages 1183-1205, September.
- Felix Schläpfer & Nick Hanley, 2006. "Contingent Valuation and Collective Choice," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(1), pages 115-135, 02.
- Slembeck, Tilman & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2004.
"Do institutions promote rationality?: An experimental study of the three-door anomaly,"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization,
Elsevier, vol. 54(3), pages 337-350, July.
- Tilman Slembeck & Jean-Robert Tyran, 2002. "Do Institutions Promote Rationality? An Experimental Study of the Three-Door Anomaly," University of St. Gallen Department of Economics working paper series 2002 2002-21, Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen.
- Payne, John W & Bettman, James R & Schkade, David A, 1999. "Measuring Constructed Preferences: Towards a Building Code," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 243-70, December.
- John M. Gowdy, 2004.
"The Revolution in Welfare Economics and Its Implications for Environmental Valuation and Policy,"
University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 80(2), pages 239-257.
- John M. Gowdy, 2003. "The Revolution in Welfare Economics and its Implications for Environmental Valuation and Policy," Rensselaer Working Papers in Economics 0315, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Department of Economics.
- Clark, Judy & Burgess, Jacquelin & Harrison, Carolyn M., 2000. ""I struggled with this money business": respondents' perspectives on contingent valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 45-62, April.
- Begoña Álvarez-Farizo & Nick Hanley, 2006. "Improving the Process of Valuing Non-Market Benefits: Combining Citizens’ Juries with Choice Modelling," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 82(3), pages 465-478.
- Alvarez-Farizo, Begona & Hanley, Nick & Barberan, Ramon & Lazaro, Angelina, 2007. "Choice modeling at the "market stall": Individual versus collective interest in environmental valuation," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(4), pages 743-751, February.
- Kahneman, Daniel & Ritov, Ilana & Schkade, David A, 1999. "Economic Preferences or Attitude Expressions?: An Analysis of Dollar Responses to Public Issues," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 19(1-3), pages 203-35, December.
- John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
- Schlapfer, Felix & Brauer, Ingo, 2007. "Theoretical incentive properties of contingent valuation questions: Do they matter in the field?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 62(3-4), pages 451-460, May.
- Nick Hanley & Jason Shogren, 2005. "Is Cost–Benefit Analysis Anomaly-Proof?," Environmental & Resource Economics, European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 32(1), pages 13-24, 09.
- Thomas P. Holmes & Kevin J. Boyle, 2005. "Dynamic Learning and Context-Dependence in Sequential, Attribute-Based, Stated-Preference Valuation Questions," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 81(1).
- Arild Vatn, 2004. "Environmental Valuation and Rationality," Land Economics, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 80(1), pages 1-18.
- Daniel McFadden, 1998.
"Rationality for Economists?,"
98-09-086, Santa Fe Institute.
- John A. List & Robert P. Berrens & Alok K. Bohara & Joe Kerkvliet, 2004. "Examining the Role of Social Isolation on Stated Preferences," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(3), pages 741-752, June.
- Charles F. Manski, 2000.
"Economic Analysis of Social Interactions,"
Journal of Economic Perspectives,
American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
- Boyle Kevin J. & Desvousges William H. & Johnson F. Reed & Dunford Richard W. & Hudson Sara P., 1994. "An Investigation of Part-Whole Biases in Contingent-Valuation Studies," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 64-83, July.
- Flores, Nicholas E. & Strong, Aaron, 2007. "Cost credibility and the stated preference analysis of public goods," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 195-205, September.
- Felix Schläpfer & Robert T. Deacon & Nick Hanley, 2005. "A Note on the Measurement of Bias in Stated Willingness to Pay for Public Goods," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(1), pages 145-152, 02.
- Felix Schläpfer & Nick Hanley, 2003. "Do Local Landscape Patterns Affect the Demand for Landscape Amenities Protection?," Journal of Agricultural Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 54(1), pages 21-34.
- Schlapfer, Felix & Schmitt, Marcel, 2007. "Anchors, endorsements, and preferences: A field experiment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 29(3), pages 229-243, September.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:soz:wpaper:0712. 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: (Marita Kieser)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.