The Impact of Direct Democracy on Crime: Is the Median Voter Boundedly Rational?
Direct democracy is believed to lead to an allocation of resources that is closer to the median voter's preferences. If, however, the median voter suffers from bounded rationality, the allocation of public goods actually achieved should be affected. Based on recent empirical findings by economic psychologists, optimism bias and availability heuristic are assumed to influence the median voter's preferences for public safety; particularly, (1) a preference for lower spending on crime prevention and (2) a preference for fighting property crime to fighting violent crime is hypothesized. In consequence, in more direct democratic systems, a re-allocation of scarce means in favor of property crimes should be observed. Estimation of a structural economic model of crime using Swiss cantonal crime rates from 1986 to 2001 corroborates these hypotheses.
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