Are Policy Analogies Persuasive? The Household Budget Analogy and Public Support for Austerity [post]

Lucy Barnes, Timothy Hicks
2020 unpublished
Public opinion on complex policy questions is shaped by the ways elites simplify the issues. Given the prevalence of metaphor and analogy as tools for cognitive problem-solving, the deployment of analogies is often proposed as a tool for this kind of influence. For instance, a prominent explanation for the acceptance of austerity is that voters understand government deficits through an analogy to borrowing by households. Indeed, there are theoretical reasons to think that the household finance
more » ... nalogy represents a most likely case for the causal influence of analogical reasoning on policy preferences. This paper examines this best-case scenario using original survey data from the United Kingdom. In both observational and experimental analyses we find no evidence of a causation running from the household analogy to preferences over the government budget. Rather, endorsement of the analogy is invoked ex post to justify support for fiscal consolidation.
doi:10.31235/ fatcat:dbv4f2rafvhgjf7dktn5paktmq