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The generation gap in direct democracy: Age vs. cohort effects

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Wolfgang Maennig () and Steffen Mueller ()

European Journal of Political Economy, 2022, vol. 72, issue C

Abstract: We document a generation gap in direct democracy outcomes across a wide range of topics that is causally related to aging. To this end, we combine different sources of postelection survey data covering more than 300 Swiss referenda and four decades. Young voters are more likely to support initiatives that favor their own generation in the present, e.g., a lower retirement age or increased unemployment benefits, or in favor of all generations in the future, e.g., environment protection. To estimate the causal effect of aging on political attitudes, we propose a novel unconstrained panel rank regression approach that separately identifies age and cohort effects. The aging effect on political attitudes is robust for controlling for arbitrary cohort effects and appears to be driven by expected utility maximization and not by habituation-induced status-quo bias.

Keywords: Age; Cohort; Direct democracy; Status quo; Referendum (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D7 H3 H4 J1 P48 Q5 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:poleco:v:72:y:2022:i:c:s0176268021001026

DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2021.102120

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European Journal of Political Economy is currently edited by J. De Haan, A. L. Hillman and H. W. Ursprung

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