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What drives public acceptance of reforms? Longitudinal evidence from a Dutch pension reform

Jante Parlevliet ()

Public Choice, 2017, vol. 173, issue 1, 1-23

Abstract: Abstract Governments often find it hard to pursue economic reforms, even if they eventually will benefit a majority of voters. The literature remains inconclusive about the reasons for this. Some scholars, on the one hand, stress the role of distributional conflicts between different classes, for instance dividing the young and the old in the case of pay-as-you-go pensions. Others have highlighted that resistance to reform is rather broad-based owing to the public’s poor understanding of the need for reform. This paper attempts to disentangle the drivers of public acceptance of reform by means of a case study: the 2012 increase of the Dutch statutory retirement age from 65 to 67. We exploit a unique longitudinal dataset on the attitudes of Dutch households respecting pension reform in the 2003–2013 period. Our findings offer various new insights. First, we find that education, occupational status and psychological traits were the most systematic drivers of reform preferences, while age had a limited impact. Second, and significantly, we find that the year fixed effects were the main drivers of respondents’ acceptance of reform. We interpret the pattern of the year coefficients as evidence of a collective learning process whereby households gradually updated their expectations and reform preferences in light of new information.

Keywords: Pension reform; Political economy; Public opinion; Information (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D83 H55 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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