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Money is where the fun ends: material interests and individuals preference for direct democracy

Philipp Harms and Claudia Landwehr ()
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Claudia Landwehr: Johannes Gutenberg-University

No 1815, Working Papers from Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Abstract: Are people’s attitudes towards referenda as a decision-making procedure driven by their material self-interest, or do individuals predominantly value direct democracy as such, regardless of the material payoffs associated with anticipated policy outcomes? To answer this question, we use a survey data set that offers information on respondents’ support for referenda as a procedure to decide on tax policy, their general views on direct democracy and redistribution, their income levels, socio-economic characteristics, and, most importantly, their expectation about the majority’s support for higher taxes. Allowing for alternative motives to welcome or oppose direct democracy, we find that income per se does not influence individuals’ procedural preferences. However, if respondents expect a clear population majority in favor of or against more redistribution their attitude towards referenda as a procedure to decide on taxation is clearly aligned with their income position.

Keywords: constitutional choice; direct democracy; redistribution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D78 H20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hpe and nep-pol
Date: 2018-09-27
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https://download.uni-mainz.de/RePEc/pdf/Discussion_Paper_1815.pdf First version, 2018 (application/pdf)

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