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Willing to Pay? Testing Institutionalist Theory with Experiments (WillingToPay)
Start date: Sep 1, 2012, End date: Aug 31, 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project will combine experimental techniques and methodologies with historically informed institutionalist analysis in order to more fully test and explore the relationships between institutions, policy regimes and citizen’s policy choices in different welfare states. The research will extend the current work in experimental economics and cognitive science by designing experiments that are modeled on real world institutions and policy choices in several different countries.Specifically we will focus on two sets of redistributive policy issues: Taxation and public pensions in four democratic nations: Sweden, Italy, Britain and the United States. The basic point will be to build a series of scenarios that will allow us to test how different institutional contexts frame or shape citizens’ decisions and thereby better understand how they perceive and process different policy choices and trade-offs.Throughout the study, historical institutionalist country specialists will work intensively with the experiments in each round, so that we can both refine the experiments in ways that can make them more realistic within different national contexts, but equally importantly so that we can build experiments that will test the specific hypotheses generated by these country specialists.I believe that only when we better understand both what citizens in different polities actually believe about their state, and why, can we build realistic models to understand how their policy systems can be reformed or adapted in the context of the enormous pressures they face today. This research will thus combine the strengths of classical historical institutionalist analysis with recent developments in cognitive and evolutionary science and decision theory.
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