Publications

Submitted
Alexander Cappelen, Cornelius Cappelen, Stein Kuhnle, and Bertil Tungodden. Submitted. “How to tighten social security: attitudes in the general population”. Abstract

In recent years, OECD countries have faced pressure to cut the costs of social security and different strategies have been utilized to achieve this:

  • Stricter eligibility requirements.

  • Reduced level of benefits.

  • Reduced maximum duration of benefits.

In order to better understand the political support for these three strategies, this contribution reports the results from a survey designed to measure which of them that the general population would prefer given the assumption that cost cuts are necessary.

            A key difference between them is how they distribute the burden of cost reductions between different benefit recipients: Should the benefit reduction be equally distributed among all recipients (reduce the benefit level) or should it be concentrated on some groups (tighten eligibility)?

            The main argument in favour of an equal distribution is that it would minimize the benefit reduction experienced by any particular individual. However, there are several arguments for an unequal distribution as well, for example that some groups could be less deserving (or include more “cheaters”) than others or that there could be larger efficiency gains from reducing benefits to some groups rather than to other groups.

            For a given reduction in total costs, there is a trade-off between the desire to avoid large individual benefit reductions and the concern for protecting some groups of benefit recipients more than other groups. Different preferences for how to achieve cost cuts will reflect how individuals trade off these concerns.

            We find large heterogeneity in how people make the trade-off and thus which of the strategies for cost reduction that they prefer. Right-wingers typically prefer to tighten the eligibility criteria, while left-wingers typically prefer to reduce the benefit level. Furthermore, we find that this difference does not primarily reflect different attitudes towards income and wealth redistribution, but are likely to reflect views about the deservingness of different groups and the importance of efficiency considerations.

socialsecurity_slides.pdf
2018
Eva Kyselá, Endre Tvinnereim, and Elisabeth Ivarsflaten. 2018. “Delaying the action: climate change as a distant threat?”. Abstract
Climate change is often perceived as a distant threat affecting people in distant places or distant future. Such perceptions could negatively affect implementation of necessary mitigation measures. Using experimental data from the Norwegian Citizen Panel 2014 (N=1714), we explore how different time and spatial context of risk reduction affects attitudes towards funding for climate and air pollution policies and how these characteristics interact with each other and with political orientation of citizens. The results of regression analyses indicate different rationale for both climate change and air pollution policies. Attitudes towards funding reduction of climate change risks are fairly consistent between different scenarios, whereas for air pollution a preference for homeland and delayed action is present. These results support the relevance of framing climate change as global. Moreover, we show that different segments of population based on their political orientation evaluate the funding aims diversely and assign different weights to the geographical attribute of the policies. We argue that better than framing climate change either locally, or globally, we should try to develop narratives bridging the division of global and local and making climate change a relevant issue rather than just a threatening and proximate one.
working_paper_2018-1.pdf
2017
Fredrik Bjørnestad Sortland. 2017. “Å velge, og å bli valgt - valg av partner i et Fangens Dilemma.” University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
Sortland: Master thesis
Gudmund Grønhaug. 2017. “Addressing the elephant in the room: a possible new way to increase patient adherence to medical advice.” Patient Preference and Adherence, 11, Pp. 1083-1089. Find at journal Abstract

Lack of patient adherence to medical advice (PAMA) is recognized as an area of interest. None of the previous initiatives to improve PAMA, such as patient centered care and shared decision making, have proved to be successful in terms of improving patient adherence. The aim of the present study is to assess beliefs about priorities in public health care, and adherence to medical advice, to establish a novel approach to increase PAMA. The present study is based on responses to two questions in an experimental survey from the Norwegian Citizen Panel, addressing people’s attitudes to priorities in public health care and adherence to medical advice. The questions on priorities in the health care sector are organized into six groups. The questions on adherence are organized into three groups. All questions are answered on a 7-point Likert scale. This study is the first to use experimental surveys to assess PAMA. The results indicate that if health care providers refer to national expertise and patient organizations’ recommendations on a given treatment, PAMA could improve. Although technical and methodological interventions in health care have, to some extent, improved PAMA, medical adherence is still low. In the present study, it is shown that integrating either national expertise or collaborated messages with other health professions and patient organizations’ recommendations in everyday care may help improve patients adherence to medical advice. A minor change in how treatment suggestions are presented could improve PAMA.

Thea Wiig. 2017. “Can framing change individual attitudes towards immigration?.” University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
Wiig: Master thesis
Sondre Vågenes Michelsen. 2017. “Can social norms lead people to choose less money over more?.” University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
Michelsen: Master thesis
Elisabeth Ivarsflaten and Paul M Sniderman. 2017. “The Challenge of Muslim Inclusion: A Study in Thresholds”.
Working paper 2017:7
Endre Tvinnereim, Kjersti Fløttum, Øyvind Gjerstad, Mikael Johannesson, and Åsta Dyrnes Nordø. 2017. “Citizen's preferences for tackling climate change. Quantitative and qualitative analysis of their freely formulated solutions..” Global Environmental Change, 46, Pp. 34-41. Download article here
Sveinung Arnesen, Dominik Duell, and Mikael Johannesson. 2017. “Is Descriptive Representation a Proxy for Substantive Representation?”.
Working paper 2017:8

Is cooperation intuitive or deliberative? From an early notion of cooperation as a deliberate suppression of innate selfish preferences, a growing body of literature has turned the general perception towards prosocial behaviour as something intuitive, sometimes actively oppressed for the sake of selfish needs and wishes. If the dual-process framework from psychology gives a better description of decision making than do the classical economic models, this will have important implications for many economic models. Testing the social heuristics hypothesis through a sequential prisoners’ dilemma conducted both in the lab and by an online survey, I find no conclusive evidence that increased deliberation systematically changes willingness to cooperate with strangers. This is the first study (to my knowledge) to isolate the effect of a manipulation through preferences. The results hold for both a general regression of cooperation on the deliberation treatment, and for the main analysis, with separate effects through preferences and beliefs.

Sveinung Arnesen, Mikael Johannesson, Jonas Linde, and Stefan Dahlberg. 2017. “Do polls influence opinions?”.
Working paper 2017:1
Sveinung Arnesen, Mikael P Johannesson, Jonas Linde, and Stefan Dahlberg. 2017. “Do Polls Influence Opinions? Investigating Poll Feedback Loops Using the Novel Dynamic Response Feedback Experimental Procedure.” Social Science Computer Review. Publisher's Version Abstract

Opinion polls may inadvertently affect public opinion, as people may change their attitudes after learning what others think. A disconcerting possibility is that opinion polls have the ability to create information cascades, wherein the majority opinion becomes increasingly larger over time. Testing poll influence on attitudes toward Syrian refugees and mandatory measles vaccination, we field survey experiments on a probability-based online survey panel. Through a novel automated procedure labeled the dynamic response feedback, we measure whether the answers from early poll respondents can influence the opinions of subsequent respondents who learn the answers of the previous respondents. Using this procedure, no feedback loops are identified.

Amanda G Reigstad, Eirik A Strømland, and Gustav Tinghög. 2017. “Extending the Cooperative Phenotype: Assessing the Stability of Cooperation across Countries.” Frontiers in Psychology, 8. Find article here

In times of increasing globalisation scholars put considerable efforts into understanding the consequences of immigration to the welfare state. One important factor in this respect is public support for the welfare state and redistribution. This article presents results from a unique survey experiment and a panel study in three European countries (Norway, Germany and the Netherlands) in order to examine whether and how individuals change their preference for redistribution when faced with immigration. Theoretically, citizens with high incomes should be especially likely to withdraw their support for redistribution because they fear the increased fiscal burden, whereas other types of citizens might ask for more compensation for the increased labour market risks caused by immigration. The empirical evidence reveals that only respondents with high incomes and those who face low labour market competition withdraw support for redistribution when faced with immigration.

Oda Kristine Storstad Sund. 2017. “It is not all about the money. A study of social norms based on Adam Smith's theory of Moral Sentiments.” University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
Sund: Master Thesis
Working paper 2017:2
Cornelius Cappelen and Stefan Dahlberg. 2017. “The Law of Jante and generalized trust.” Acta Sociologica. Download article here Abstract

A widespread cultural phenomenon – and/or individual disposition – is the idea that one should never try to be more, try to be different, or consider oneself more valuable than other people. In Scandinavia this code of modesty is referred to as the ‘Jante mentality’, in Anglo-Saxon societies the ‘tall puppy syndrome’, and in Asian cultures ‘the nail that stands out gets hammered down’. The study reported here examines how this modesty code relates to generalized trust. We argue, prima facie, that a positive and a negative relationship are equally plausible. Representative samples of the Norwegian population were asked about their agreement with the Jante mentality and the extent to which they have trust in other people. Two population surveys were conducted; one measuring individual level associations and another measuring aggregate level associations. It was found that the relationship between having a Jante mentality and trust is negative, at both levels of analysis and, furthermore, that the Jante mentality – this modesty code assumed to be instilled in Scandinavians from early childhood – is a powerful predictor of generalized trust.

Democracies are typically considered more legitimate than other types of regimes because they allow the citizens to participate in the policy decision-making process. Others argue that the policy output matters most, and citizen influence plays a lesser role. This study presents two survey experiments on the micro foundations of these two sources of political legitimacy, thus contributing to an emerging literature that experimentally investigates the effects of democratic procedures in small-scale settings. Respondents who saw the decision going in their favour found the decision much more acceptable than the respondents who preferred another outcome. Conversely, decision-making influence generally did not serve as a legitimising factor among the respondents. This result supports the argument that citizens prefer a stealth democracy where they are minimally involved in democratic decision-making processes.

Working paper 2017:3

We examine how descriptive representation, formal representation, and responsiveness affect the legitimacy of political decisions: Who are the representatives, how are they selected, what is the outcome of the decision-making process, and to what extent do these three aspects matter for decision acceptance among the citizens? We examine this from the citizens’ perspective, and ask whether decisions are perceived as more legitimate when they are made by groups that reflect society in certain characteristics and chosen according to certain selection procedures. In a Norwegian survey experiment, we find that people are more willing to accept a decision when it is made by a group of people like them, and who are assigned as decision makers based on their expertise. Descriptive representation also serves as a cushion for unfavorable decisions. Moreover, when asked, the traditionally less advantaged groups tend to value descriptive representation more than other citizens.

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