Research Insights: Can Voter Preferences Explain Why Governments Underinvest in Public Goods?

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Apr 2022
A new survey of 6,040 voting-age individuals conducted in seven Latin American metropolitan areas reveals that political and interpersonal mistrust, risk aversion and time impatience are strong predictors of voter preferences for public spending. Respondents with higher mistrust or impatience are more likely to choose transfers over public goods; more impatient respondents are also more likely to choose current spending over public investment. Randomized experiments providing information about the benefits of public investment have the expected average demand impacts. Respondents with high political mistrust or impatience increase their demand for public investment significantly less than others.