A number of studies have found that public opinion influences policy outcomes. However, the question of whether some groups have more influence than others has received very little attention in empirical work, despite its theoretical significance. This study will represent a first step in addressing this issue. Specifically, it considers three hypotheses: (1) the opinions of highly educated people will have more influence than those of less educated people, (2) The opinions of rural dwellers will have less influence than those of urbanites, and (3) The opinions of visible minority groups will have less influence than those of mainstream (whites). The paper uses a different strategy to the majority of previous studies on the influence of public opinion on policy in which measures of policy are regressed on a measure of public opinion and appropriate control variables. Instead, it employs qualitative document analysis of transcripts of face-to-face consultations as well as written submissions on the issue of bringing to balance the fiscal deficit in Nova Scotia. I find fairly strong support for the hypothesis that the opinions of educated people have more influence, as well as stronger support for the hypothesis that the opinions of urban dwellers will have more influence on the policy than those of the rural dwellers. However, there was no support for the hypothesis that the opinions of visible minority groups will have less influence than those of mainstream (whites).
|Keywords:||Fiscal Policy, Public Opinion, Nova Scotia, Canada|
PhD Student, Interdisciplinary PhD Program, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
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