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Après Nous Le Déluge? Direct Democracy and Intergenerational Conflicts in Ageing Societies

60 Pages Posted: 24 Mar 2016  

Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment

Wolfgang Maennig

Universität Hamburg, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences

Malte Steenbeck

University of Hamburg - School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences

Date Written: February 29, 2016

Abstract

To assess the likely effects of population ageing on the outcomes of direct democracy, we analyze the effect of age on voting decisions in public referenda. To this end, we provide the first quantitative review of the literature and a case study of the Stuttgart 21 referendum on one of the largest infrastructure projects in Germany. The evidence suggests that intergenerational conflicts arising from population ageing will likely be limited to areas in which the net present value differs particularly strongly across generations, such as education and health spending, green energy, and major transport projects. In such instances, however, the effect can be quantitatively relevant, raising the question of whether, as population ageing progresses, decisions should be based on social cost-benefit analyses, instead of referenda.

Keywords: ageing, direct democracy, intergenerational conflict, NIMBY, referendum, Stuttgart 21, transport, voting

JEL Classification: D610, D620, H410, H710, L830, I180, R410, R580

Suggested Citation

Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. and Maennig, Wolfgang and Steenbeck, Malte, Après Nous Le Déluge? Direct Democracy and Intergenerational Conflicts in Ageing Societies (February 29, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5779. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2753511

Gabriel M. Ahlfeldt (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment ( email )

Houghton Street
WC2A 2AE London
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://personal.lse.ac.uk/ahlfeldg/

Wolfgang Maennig

Universität Hamburg, Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 5
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

Malte Steenbeck

University of Hamburg - School of Business, Economics and Social Sciences ( email )

Welckerstrasse 8
Hamburg, D-20354
Germany

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