Credible Sources and Sophisticated Voters: When Does New Information Induce Economic Voting?

64 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2014

See all articles by James E. Alt

James E. Alt

Harvard University - Department of Government

David Dreyer Lassen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

John Marshall

Harvard University

Date Written: September 5, 2014

Abstract

When does new economic information cause voters to re-evaluate the government’s competence, and ultimately vote economically? Since politically-relevant information is often conveyed by actors with incentives to influence voter perceptions, the credibility of information sources can vary significantly. This paper randomly varies whether voters receive an aggregate unemployment forecast from the central bank, government or main opposition party using a survey experiment in Denmark with unique access to detailed panel and administrative data. We find that politically sophisticated voters discern differences in institutional credibility and the political cost of the signal, and update their unemployment expectations accordingly. Despite failing to differentiate political costs, unsophisticated voters still substantially update their expectations. However, after experimentally altering unemployment expectations, only sophisticated voters intend to engage in substantial prospective economic voting. Consequently, providing economic information supports economic voting to the extent that it is credible and reaches sophisticated voters.

Keywords: Voting behavior, economic voting, political sophistication, information, experiments

Suggested Citation

Alt, James E. and Lassen, David Dreyer and Marshall, John, Credible Sources and Sophisticated Voters: When Does New Information Induce Economic Voting? (September 5, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2492160 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2492160

James E. Alt (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

David Dreyer Lassen

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Studiestraede 6
DK 1455 Copenhagen
Denmark
+45 3532 4412 (Phone)
+45 3532 4444 (Fax)

John Marshall

Harvard University ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
56
Abstract Views
756
rank
493,814
PlumX Metrics