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Are Policy Analogies Persuasive? The Household Budget Analogy and Public Support for Austerity

Barnes, L; Hicks, T; (2021) Are Policy Analogies Persuasive? The Household Budget Analogy and Public Support for Austerity. British Journal of Political Science 10.1017/s0007123421000119. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

Public opinion on complex policy questions is shaped by the ways in which elites simplify the issues. Given the prevalence of metaphor and analogy as tools for cognitive problem solving, the deployment of analogies is often proposed as a tool for this kind of influence. For instance, a prominent explanation for the acceptance of austerity is that voters understand government deficits through an analogy to household borrowing. Indeed, there are theoretical reasons to think the household finance analogy represents a most likely case for the causal influence of analogical reasoning on policy preferences. This article examines this best-case scenario using original survey data from the United Kingdom. It reports observational and experimental analyses that find no evidence of causation running from the household analogy to preferences over the government budget. Rather, endorsement of the analogy is invoked ex post to justify support for fiscal consolidation.

Type: Article
Title: Are Policy Analogies Persuasive? The Household Budget Analogy and Public Support for Austerity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/s0007123421000119
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0007123421000119
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: political economy, austerity, government debt, political attitudes
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10129856
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