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Experimenting with Deliberative Democracy: Effects on Policy Preferences and Social Choice

This paper by authors Cynthia Farrar, James S. Fishkin, Donald P. Green, Christian List, Robert C. Luskin, and Elizabeth Levy Paluck was presented at the ECPR Conference in Marburg, Germany, September 18-21, 2003. Using data from the first fully randomized field experiment within a Deliberative Poll, we examine the effects of the Deliberative Poll’s formal on-site deliberations on both policy preferences and “preference structuration” or single-peakedness (operationally, the proportion of individuals whose preferences are aligned along the same shared dimension). The issues were airport expansion and revenue sharing in New Haven, Connecticut and its surrounding towns. We find that deliberation significantly altered aggregate policy preferences and increased the degree of single-peakedness on revenue sharing, though not airport expansion. These results both confirm the promise of civic deliberation as a means of transforming citizen preferences and raise the question of how deliberation’s effects may depend on the kind of issue being deliberated.

Resource Link: http://cdd.stanford.edu/research/papers/2003/experimenting.pdf

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