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Who's Afraid of Policy Experiments?

22 maggio 2024
2:00 pm
San Francesco Complex - classroom 1

In many public policy areas, randomized policy experiments can greatly contribute to our knowledge of the effects of policies and can thus help to improve public policy. However, policy experiments are not very common. This paper studies whether a lack of appreciation of policy experiments among voters may be the reason for this. Using unique survey data representative of the Dutch electorate, we find clear evidence contradicting this view. Voters strongly support policy experimentation and, in line with theory, particularly so when they do not hold a strong opinion about the policy. In a subsequent survey experiment among Dutch politicians, we find that politicians conform their expressed opinion about policy experiments to what we tell them the actual opinion of voters is. We conclude that voters are not afraid of policy experiments and neither are politicians when we tell them that voters are not.


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Robert Dur, Erasmus University Rotterdam