What Makes Politicians Attend to Societal Problems? Evidence from a Field Experiment and Interviews

06.03.2023 - 12:00 to 13:30
Location : 
A 5,6 Raum A 231
Type of Event : 
AB B-Kolloquium
Henrik Seeberg
Lecturer affiliation: 
Aarhus University

Politicians are exposed to a constant flow of information about societal problems. However, they have limited resources and need to prioritize. This raises the question of which information they pay attention to. Previous research identifies four types of information that may matter: public concern about a problem, problem attention by rival politicians, news stories about problems, and statistical problem
indicators. We are the first to contrast the four types of information through a field experiment with more than 6,000 candidates and multiple elite interviews in Den-
mark. Candidates received an e-mail invitation to access a specially tailored report that randomly highlights one of the four types of information. Statistical indicators and public opinion are accessed the most and our interviews ascertain politicians’
underlying reasoning. Taken together, our results provide new and important evidence about the types of information that politicians consider when addressing
societal problems.