How Economic Considerations Shape Independence Aspirations: Evidence from Greenland

48 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2019 Last revised: 6 Nov 2019

Date Written: November 5, 2019


Little is known about how secessionist movements gain momentum and the factors that govern political decision making in independence referendums. I study how economic considerations shape voting intentions in a hypothetical independence referendum in Greenland. Respondents that are randomly exposed to information about the fiscal dependency on the current political union are 44 percent more likely to vote 'no' to independence. There are two channels that account for this effect. Firstly, exposure to negative economic information influences voting by making respondents' prospective economic evaluations of independence more pessimistic. Secondly, the information prime rallies undecided voters with negative economic expectations to vote, and thereby changes the voter composition. I rule out that a shift in salience towards the economic challenges associated with independence explain the findings. The present study reveals a high degree of voting behaviour malleability in a non-western setting; the change induced by the information prime would swing the entire independence referendum.

Keywords: voting behaviour, information, economic voting, survey experiment

JEL Classification: H77, D74, D72

Suggested Citation

Agneman, Gustav, How Economic Considerations Shape Independence Aspirations: Evidence from Greenland (November 5, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

Gustav Agneman (Contact Author)

Lund University ( email )

Box 52


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