Public Support for Digital Economy Initiatives

In person and zoom: (Meeting ID: 933 1045 9956; Passcode: 582070)

(Joint work with Alex Kuo, Oxford University, Silja Häusermann, Zurich University, and Reto Bürgisser, Zurich University)

Abstract: Governments in many countries are planning to undertake ambitious policy measures to “digitize” their economies, that will supposedly increase economic growth. For example, the European Union (EU) has approved the ‘Next Generation’ program to invest around 800,000 million euros over the next 5 years to do this as part of the pandemic-relief program. However, little is known about individual preferences regarding such policies; this is surprising given that governments may have to borrow money or raise taxes to further pay for them, and because such policies have redistributive implications. In this paper we present and test hypotheses about whether key “digital-oriented” demographic variables correlate with support for specific digitalization policies, including: digital-skills courses for the unemployed, assisting in firms purchasing such technology, support for technological start-ups, rollout of 5G to rural areas, digitalization of public administration, and amplification of algorithmic use in businesses and the public sector. Additionally, we expect that priming distributional implications of these policies—by raising the possibility that these policies will advantage some types of workers—will affect support for these policies. Our data will come from new surveys fielded in autumn 2022 in a variety of 5-EU countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Sweden). The results will speak to the growing debate about the political implications of technological change in advanced economies.