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Near Is My Shirt but Nearer Is My Skin. Ideology or Self-Interest as Determinants of Public Opinion on Fiscal Policy Issues

  • Hans Pitlik


  • Gerhard Schwarz

    (Austrian Institute of Economic Research)

  • Barbara Bechter
  • Bernd Brandl

    (University of Vienna, Department of Industrial Sociology)

Several empirical studies derive that personal positions with respect to policy measures are dominated by ideology instead of narrow self-interest. In the present field study we carried out a telephone survey with 1,003 respondents all over Austria. Instead of measuring selfishness indirectly by using more or less "objective indicators" for self-interest, we requested respondents to assess directly whether they expect to be affected by policy measures. Our results indicate that such a subjectively measured narrow self-interest explains attitudes towards economic policies at least as good as ideological conviction. In some cases ideology appears to determine whether people feel affected by a proposed policy measure.

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Paper provided by WIFO in its series WIFO Working Papers with number 373.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 30 Jun 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wfo:wpaper:y:2010:i:373
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  1. Victor R. Fuchs & Alan B. Krueger & James M. Poterba, 1998. "Economists' Views about Parameters, Values, and Policies: Survey Results in Labor and Public Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(3), pages 1387-1425, September.
  2. Arthur T. Denzau & Douglass C. North, 1993. "Shared Mental Models: Ideologies and Institutions," Economic History 9309003, EconWPA.
  3. Hennighausen, Tanja & Bischoff, Ivo & Heinemann, Friedrich, 2009. "Choosing from the Reform Menu Card: Individual Determinants of Labour Market Policy Preferences," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-004, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  4. Bryan Caplan, 2006. "How do voters form positive economic beliefs? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 128(3), pages 367-381, September.
  5. Bryan Caplan, 2002. "Sociotropes, Systematic Bias, and Political Failure: Reflections on the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 83(2), pages 416-435.
  6. Kirchgassner, Gebhard & Pommerehne, Werner W, 1993. " Low-Cost Decisions as a Challenge to Public Choice," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(1), pages 107-15, September.
  7. Heinemann, Friedrich & Hennighausen, Tanja, 2010. "Don't tax me? Determinants of individual attitudes toward progressive taxation," ZEW Discussion Papers 10-017, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
  8. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  9. William B. Walstad, 1997. "The Effect of Economic Knowledge on Public Opinion of Economic Issues," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 195-205, September.
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