Beliefs About Corporate America and the Structure of Opinions Toward Privatization
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This research analyzes the individual-level factors associated with public support for the private provision of public goods and services. Given that privatization requires the transfer of authority from public to private entities, we argue that beliefs about private companies are an important and overlooked source of heterogeneity in explaining public policy preferences toward privatization. We test this expectation using survey data from the 2014 Cooperative Congressional Election Study. We find that support for privatization is associated with positive beliefs about the motivation of private companies and with favorable views about corporate accountability relative to the accountability of government. Opposition to privatization is associated with beliefs about corporate influence in politics. Preferences for limited government are also associated with support for privatization. These results highlight the potential for beliefs about private companies to serve as a group heuristic in political reasoning and the ability of citizens to make reasoned choices on complex public policy issues.
KeywordsPrivatization Heuristics Corporate America Approval Policy preferences Ideology
We are grateful for the helpful comments provided by four anonymous reviewers and the editor. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, Award #1430505. Replication code and data are available on the Political Behavior Dataverse within the Harvard Dataverse Network at https://dataverse.harvard.edu/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.7910/DVN/7EGFAM.
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