“Voting in the aftermath of a pension reform: the role of economic-financial literacy”

by Elsa Fornero and Anna Lo Prete; CeRP WP 171/17

Economic reforms affecting people’s lives are generally quite unpopular and may imply an electoral cost. This can derive, among other things, from lack of understanding of the basic elements of reforms. Our paper shows that the electoral cost of a pension reform is significantly lower in countries where the level of economic-financial literacy is higher. The evidence from data on legislative elections held between 1990 and 2010 in 21 advanced countries is robust when we control for macro-economic conditions, demographic factors, and characteristics of the political system. Interestingly, these findings are not robust when we use less specific indicators of human capital – such as general schooling – supporting the view that economic-financial knowledge has distinctive features that may help reduce the electoral cost of reforms having a relevant impact on the life cycle of individuals.

published April 2017