Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence from a Natural Voting Experiment

55 Pages Posted: 22 May 2008

See all articles by Monika Butler

Monika Butler

University of St. Gallen; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Michel André Maréchal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2007

Abstract

This paper analyzes a recent ballot in which two virtually identical popular initiatives, both demanding a decrease in the legal age of retirement in Switzerland, led to differences in approval rates of nearly seven percentage points. Based on this unique natural experiment, the existence of emphasis framing effects is tested for and their determinants are identified outside of the controlled settings of laboratories. Nonetheless, the analyzed setting allows for considerably more control than usually available in the field: All party, government and interest group recommendations were symmetric for both initiatives, and the simultaneous vote rules out potential variation of individual preferences and compositional changes of the electorate over time. Using community and individual level data it is shown that the difference in approval rates is largely due to the different emphases in the initiatives' titles.

Keywords: Bounded rationality, direct democracy, framing effect, natural experiment, pension reform, voting

JEL Classification: D1, D72, H55

Suggested Citation

Bütler, Monika and Maréchal, Michel André, Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence from a Natural Voting Experiment (March 2007). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP6200, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1135442

Monika Bütler (Contact Author)

University of St. Gallen ( email )

Varnbuelstr. 14
Saint Gallen, St. Gallen CH-9000
Switzerland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Michel André Maréchal

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

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