Voting on the Environment: Price or Ideology? Evidence from Swiss Referendums
Studies on preferences for environmental quality usually posit that price and income explain most of the observed choices. However, we argue that conceptions of social norms and the common good are equally important when analyzing environmental voting outcomes and are a significant component of the environmental demand. We study aggregate results of three ballot proposals in Switzerland put to vote in the year 2000 which foresaw different tax schemes on fossil energy. All three bills were rejected by the electorate. We are able to show that regions with producer interests, car commuting habits and elderly population are less supportive of ecological tax reforms, unlike higher education and leftist political affinity that work in favor of the bills, though. More importantly, our results underline the importance of including variables pertaining to the notion of ideology, both in terms of statistical fit and obtaining unbiased estimates for price and income determinants.