Studying Public Opinion on Multidimensional Policies: The Case of the Eurozone Bailouts
Michael M. Bechtel
University of St. Gallen, Department of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Political Science
Yotam M. Margalit
October 1, 2012
MIT Political Science Department Research Paper No. 2012-27
Studies of policy preferences typically restrict measurements to a single dimension on which respondents are asked to choose between support and opposition to a policy. However, major policy decisions are often multidimensional as they entail a bundle of policy features. We present a survey approach based on conjoint analysis that allows scholars to unpack this multidimensionality and apply it to study voter preferences regarding Eurozone bailouts, a policy with far-reaching economic and political repercussions. We examine how salient dimensions of the bailouts -- burden-sharing, conditionality, and endorsement profile -- affect mass support for these financial transfers in the major donor country, Germany. We find that variations on each of these dimensions strongly affect voters' preferences, with burden-sharing aspects being the most influential. Changes in a bailout's policy composition can lead to large shifts in public support and there is a striking consensus among citizens about the relative importance of the different policy dimensions. These results challenge the prevailing view that an ironclad majority of German voters opposes the funding of further bailouts. The findings also highlight promising avenues for research on the multidimensionality of policy preferences.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 50
Keywords: bailouts, Eurozone, public opinion, conjoint analysis
JEL Classification: F5, P16, F34, D72working papers series
Date posted: October 19, 2012 ; Last revised: March 12, 2013
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