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

Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. ORCID: 0000-0001-5664-3230, Maennig, Wolfgang and Mueller, Steffen Q. (2022) The generation gap in direct democracy: age vs. cohort effects. European Journal of Political Economy, 72. ISSN 0176-2680

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2021.102120


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.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier B.V.
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Subjects: J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
JEL classification: P - Economic Systems > P4 - Other Economic Systems > P48 - Political Economy; Legal Institutions; Property Rights
J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics > J10 - General
D - Microeconomics > D7 - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making > D70 - General
Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics > Q5 - Environmental Economics > Q50 - General
H - Public Economics > H4 - Publicly Provided Goods > H40 - General
H - Public Economics > H3 - Fiscal Policies and Behavior of Economic Agents > H30 - General
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2021 08:15
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 05:33

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