Political Activists as Free-Riders: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment

86 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2020

See all articles by Anselm Hager

Anselm Hager

University of Oxford

Lukas Hensel

University of Oxford

Johannes Hermle

University of Bonn

Christopher Roth

University of Warwick, Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Economics, Students

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

How does a citizen’s decision to participate in political activism depend on the participation of others? We conduct a nation-wide natural field experiment in collaboration with a major European party during a recent national election. In a party survey, we randomly provide canvassers with true information about the canvassing intentions of their peers. When learning that more peers participate in canvassing than previously believed, canvassers significantly reduce both their canvassing intentions and behavior. An additional survey among party supporters underscores the importance of free-riding motives and reveals that there is strong heterogeneity in motives underlying supporters’ behavioral responses.

Keywords: political activism, natural field experiment, strategic behaviour, beliefs

JEL Classification: D800, P160

Suggested Citation

Hager, Anselm and Hensel, Lukas and Hermle, Johannes and Roth, Christopher, Political Activists as Free-Riders: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment (2020). CESifo Working Paper No. 8459, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3671244 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3671244

Anselm Hager (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Lukas Hensel

University of Oxford ( email )

South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3QZ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/view/lukashenseleconomics

Johannes Hermle

University of Bonn ( email )

Regina-Pacis-Weg 3
Postfach 2220
Bonn, D-53012
Germany

Christopher Roth

University of Warwick, Faculty of Social Studies, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

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