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The generation gap in direct democracy

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Wolfgang Maennig and Steffen Mueller

LSE Research Online Documents on Economics from London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library

Abstract: We provide the first systematic documentation and analysis of a generation gap in direct democracy outcomes across a wide range of topics using postelection survey data covering more than 300 Swiss referenda and four decades. We find that older voters are more likely to resist reform projects, particularly those that are associated with the political left. We separate age and cohort effects without imposing functional form constraints using a panel rank regression approach. The aging effect on political orientation 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. Our results suggest that population aging raises the hurdle for investment-like reform projects with positive net present values, long-run benefits and short-run costs in direct polls.

Keywords: age; cohort; direct democracy; generation gap; status quo; referendum; reform; utility (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D7 H3 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018-06-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-age, nep-pol, nep-upt and nep-ure
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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/88702/ Open access version. (application/pdf)

Related works:
Working Paper: The generation gap in direct democracy (2019) Downloads
Working Paper: The generation gap in direct democracy (2018) Downloads
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