The Effects of Policy Design Complexity on Public Support for Climate Policy

42 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2020

See all articles by Lukas Paul Fesenfeld

Lukas Paul Fesenfeld

ETH Zürich; University of Bern - Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research

Date Written: October 10, 2020

Abstract

Many important policy challenges like climate change, pandemics or digitalization require transformative policy responses that take the form of complex policy packages. Nevertheless, most public opinion research has studied public support for single policy instruments, while it remains unclear to what extent citizens evaluate isolated and combined policies differently. In this study, I argue that both the increased complexity of policy designs and the packaging of costly and compensatory measures can substantially affect public opinion. I employ a novel two-stage conjoint-based experimental approach in the United States and Germany to test this argument. In contrast to my expectations based on framing theory, the results show that policy packaging can increase support for climate policies, but that the complexity of policy designs per se does not substantially shift public opinion. Facing complex policy packages, respondents still make rational choices and compensatory policy designs are key to explaining shifts in public support.

Keywords: Policy Design Complexity, Policy Packaging, Public Opinion, Conjoint Experiment, Climate Policy, Rational Choice, Bounded Rationality

Suggested Citation

Fesenfeld, Lukas Paul, The Effects of Policy Design Complexity on Public Support for Climate Policy (October 10, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3708920 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3708920

Lukas Paul Fesenfeld (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
8092 Zurich, CH-1015
Switzerland

University of Bern - Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research ( email )

Zähringerstrasse 25
Bern, 3012
Switzerland

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