Public Knowledge of Population Trends and Preferences over Pension Policies. Evidence from a Survey Experiment in Germany, Spain and the United States

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Antonio M. JAIME-CASTILLO, University of Malaga, Spain
Juan J FERNÁNDEZ, Department of Social Sciences, University Carlos III of Madrid, Spain
Jonas RADL, Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain
Gema GARCIA, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
Demographic change, specifically the change in the age structure of the population, constitutes one of the most substantial transformations in the social structure of Western societies since the end of World War II. Furthermore, population projections indicate that the aging process is an ongoing process that is expected to have major impact on Western societies in the coming decades. Yet, the degree to which the population at large is aware about this demographic trend –together with its consequences– remains largely an understudied phenomenon. At the same time, however, a growing literature shows that popular attitudes towards public policies are sensitive to issue knowledge and the empirical evidence confirms that more knowledgeable individuals tend to prefer certain policy reforms over other ones. This study presents new evidence from an online survey experiment on demographic knowledge carried out in the Autumn of 2017 in Germany, Spain and the United States. The first goal of the study is to know whether the public in these countries is aware of the (present and future) extent of the aging process. Secondly, we analyze if demographic knowledge at the individual level has an impact on preferences over pension policies (and a wider range of social policies) by providing hard, objective information about population projections to a random split of the sample and then comparing the preferences of this group and the control group (those who do not receive additional information). In a final step, we analyze how personal characteristics – such as age, gender, education, and prior knowledge – moderate the effect of demographic information on policy preferences. This project contributes to understanding how much individuals know about population indicators and to what extent this demographic knowledge might affect their support for certain types of policies and their reforms.