Skip to main content
×
×
Home

How to measure public demand for policies when there is no appropriate survey data?

  • Bianca Oehl (a1), Lena Maria Schaffer (a2) and Thomas Bernauer (a3)
Abstract

Explanatory models accounting for variation in policy choices by democratic governments usually include a demand (by the public) and a supply (by the government) component, whereas the latter component is usually better developed from a measurement viewpoint. The main reason is that public opinion surveys, the standard approach to measuring public demand, are expensive, difficult to implement simultaneously for different countries for purposes of crossnational comparison and impossible to implement ex post for purposes of longitudinal analysis if survey data for past time periods are lacking. We therefore propose a new approach to measuring public demand, focussing on political claims made by nongovernmental actors and expressed in the news. To demonstrate the feasibility and usefulness of our measure of published opinion, we focus on climate policy in the time period between 1995 and 2010. When comparing the new measure of published opinion with the best available public opinion survey and internet search data, it turns out that our data can serve as a meaningful proxy for public demand.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Ahchong, K. and Dodds, R. (2012) Anthropogenic Climate Change Coverage in Two Canadian Newspapers, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, from 1988 to 2007. Environmental Science and Policy 15(1): 4859.
Andrewsa, K. T. and Caren, N. (2010) Making the News: Movement Organizations, Media Attention, and the Public Agenda. American Sociological Review 75(6): 841866.
Ayoubkhani, D. (2012) An Investigation Into Using Google Trends as an Administrative Data Source in ONS. Paper presented at the Conference of European Statisticians, Seminar on New Frontiers for Statistical Data Collection, Geneva, 31 October–2 November, pp. 1–11.
Bättig, M. B. and Bernauer, T. (2009) National Institutions and Global Public Goods: Are Democracies More Cooperative in Climate Change Policy? International Organization 63(2): 281308.
Bernauer, T., Jahn, D., Kuhn, P. M. and Walter, S. (2014) Einführung in die Politikwissenschaft. Baden-Baden: Nomos.
Bernauer, T., Kalbhenn, A., Koubi, V. and Spilker, G. (2010) A Comparison of International and Domestic Sources of Global Governance Dynamics. British Journal of Political Science 40(3): 509538.
Bernauer, T. and Schaffer, L. (2012) Climate Change Governance. In Levi-Faur D. (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 441454.
Boykoff, M. T. (2007) Flogging a Dead Norm? Newspaper Coverage of Anthropogenic Climate Change in the United States and United Kingdom from 2003 to 2006. Area 39(4): 470481.
Boykoff, M. T. and Mansfield, M. (2008) “Ye Olde Hot Aire”: Reporting on Human Contributions to Climate Change in the UK Tabloid Press. Environmental Research Letters 3(2): 18.
Brechin, S. R. and Bhandari, M. (2011) Perceptions of Climate Change Worldwide. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 2(6): 871885.
Breunig, C. (2014) Content and Dynamics of Legislative Agendas in Germany. In Green-Pedersen C. and Walgrave S. (eds.), Agenda Setting, Policies, and Political Systems. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 125163.
Brewer, T. L. (2005) US Public Opinion on Climate Change Issues: Implications for Consensus-Building and Policymaking. Climate Policy 4(4): 359376.
Brossard, D., Shanahan, J. and McComas, K. (2004) Are Issue-Cycles Culturally Constructed? A Comparison of French and American Coverage of Global Climate Change. Mass Communication and Society 7(3): 359377.
Brulle, R., Carmichael, J. and Jenkins, C. (2012) Shifting Public Opinion on Climate Change: An Empirical Assessment of Factors Influencing Concern Over Climate Change in the U.S., 2002-2010. Climatic Change 114(2): 169188.
Burstein, P. (2003) The Impact of Public Opinion on Public Policy: A Review and an Agenda. Political Research Quarterly 56(1): 2940.
Burstein, P. (2006) Why Estimates of the Impact of Public Opinion on Public Policy are Too High: Empirical and Theoretical Implications. Social Forces 84(4): 22732289.
Carvalho, A. and Burgess, J. (2005) Cultural Circuits of Climate Change in U.K. Broadsheet Newspapers, 1985-2003. Risk Analysis 25(6): 14571469.
Chaqués-Bonafont, L. and Baumgartner, F. R. (2013) Newspaper Coverage of Politics in a Partisan Media System. The Case of Spain. Journal of Public Policy 33(1): 6588.
Chaqués-Bonafont, L., Palau, A. and Baumgartner, F. R. (2015) Agenda Dynamics in Spain. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
Choi, H. and Varian, H. (2012) Predicting the Present with Google Trends. Economic Record 88: 29.
Chyi, H. I. and McCombs, M. (2004) Media Salience and the Process of Framing: Coverage of the Columbine School Shootings. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 81(1): 2235.
Cohen, J., Tsfati, Y. and Sheafer, T. (2008) The Influence of Presumed Media Influence in Politics: Do Politicians’ Perceptions of Media Power Matter? Public Opinion Quarterly 72(2): 331344.
Cook, F. L., Tyler, T. R., Goetz, E. G., Gordon, M. T., Protess, D., Leff, D. R. and Molotch, H. L. (1983) Media and Agenda Setting: Effects on the Public, Interest Group Leaders, Policy Makers, and Policy. Public Opinion Quarterly 47(1): 1635.
Dahl, R. A. (1971) Polyarchy, Participation and Opposition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Dasgupta, S., Laplante, B., Wang, H. and Wheeler, D. (2002) Confronting the Environmental Kuznets Curve. The Journal of Economic Perspectives 16(1): 147168.
Davison, W. (1983) The Third-Person Effect in Communication. Public Opinion Quarterly 47(1): 115.
Denham, B. E. (2014) Intermedia Attribute Agenda Setting in the New York Times: The Case of Animal Abuse in U.S. Horse Racing. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 91(1): 1737.
Donner, S. D. and McDaniels, J. (2013) The Influence of National Temperature Fluctuations on Opinions About Climate Change in the U.S. Since 1990. Climatic Change 118(3–4): 537550.
Downs, A. (1957) An Economic Theory of Democracy. Boston, MA: Addison Wesley.
Fisher, D. R., Leifeld, P. and Iwaki, Y. (2012) Mapping the Ideological Networks of American Climate Politics. Climatic Change 116(3–4): 523545.
Frank, D. J. (1999) The Social Bases of Environmental Treaty Ratification, 1900-1990. Sociological Inquiry 69(4): 523550.
Fredriksson, P. G. and Millimet, D. L. (2004) Electoral Rules and Environmental Policy. Economics Letters 84(2): 237244.
Gamson, W. A. and Modigliani, A. (1989) Media Discourse and Public Opinion on Nuclear Power: A Constructionist Approach. American Journal of Sociology 95(1): 137.
Golan, G. (2006) Inter-Media Agenda Setting and Global News Coverage. Journalism Studies 7(2): 323333.
Google (2014) Where Trends Data Comes From, https://support.google.com/trends/answer/4355213?hl=en (accessed 5 June 2014).
Gunther, A. C. (1998) The Persuasive Press Inference: Effects of Mass Media on Perceived Public Opinion. Communication Research 25(5): 486504.
Gunther, A. C. and Storey, J. D. (2003) The Influence of Presumed Influence. Journal of Communication 53(2): 199215.
Habel, P. D. (2012) Following the Opinion Leaders? The Dynamics of Influence Among Media Opinion, the Public, and Politicians. Political Communication 29(3): 257277.
Herbst, S. (1993) Numbered Voices. How Opinion Polling has Shaped American Politics. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Herbst, S. (1998) Reading Public Opinion: How Political Actors View the Democratic Process. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Howland, D., Becker, M. and Prelli, L. (2006) Merging Content Analysis and the Policy Sciences: A System to Discern Policy-Specific Trends from News Media Reports. Policy Sciences 39(3): 205231.
Jacobs, L. R. and Shapiro, R. Y. (2000) Politicians Don’t Pander. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Kahn, M. E. and Kotchen, M. J. (2011) Business Cycle Effects on Concern About Climate Change: The Chilling Effect of Recession. Climate Change Economics 2(3): 257273.
Kim, S. Y. and Wolinsky-Nahmias, Y. (2014) Cross-National Public Opinion on Climate Change: The Effects of Affluence and Vulnerability. Global Environmental Politics 14: 79106.
Koopmans, R. (2004) Movements and Media: Selection Processes and Evolutionary Dynamics in the Public Sphere. Theory and Society 33: 367391.
Koopmans, R. (2007) Who Inhabits the European Public Sphere? Winners and Losers, Supporters and Opponents in Europeanised Political Debates. European Journal of Political Research 46(2): 183210.
Koopmans, R. and Statham, P. (1999) Political Claims Analysis: Integrating Protest Event and Political Ciscourse Approaches. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 4: 203221.
Koopmans, R. and Statham, P. (2010) Theoretical Framework, Research Design and Methods. In Koopmans R. and Statham P. (eds.), The Making of a European Public Sphere. Media Discourse and Political Contention. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 3462.
Krosnick, J., Holbrook, A., Lowe, L. and Visser, P. (2006) The Origins and Consequences of Democratic Citizens’ Policy Agendas: A Study of Popular Concern About Global Warming. Climatic Change 77(1): 743.
Lakoff, G. (2010) Why it Matters How We Frame the Environment. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture 4(1): 7081.
Lee, H. S. (2014) Analyzing the Multidirectional Relationships Between the President, News Media, and the Public: Who Affects Whom? Political Communication 31(2): 259281.
Luntz, F. (2003) The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America. The Luntz Research Companies, Straight Talk. Unpublished Memo, 131–146.
McCombs, M. and Shaw, D. (1972) The Agenda-Setting Function of Mass Media. Public Opinion Quarterly 36(2): 176187.
McLeod, J. M., Becker, L. B. and Byrnes, J. E. (1974) Another Look at the Agenda-Setting Function of the Press. Communication Research 1(2): 131166.
Mellon, J. (2014) Internet Search Data and Issue Salience: The Properties of Google Trends as a Measure of Issue Salience. Journal of Elections, Public Opinion and Parties 24(1): 4572.
Mutz, D. (1998) Impersonal Influence. How Perceptions of Mass Collectives Affect Political Attitudes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Neumayer, E. (2002) Do Democracies Exhibit Stronger International Environmental Commitment? A Cross-Country Analysis. Journal of Peace Research 39(2): 139164.
Neumayer, E. (2003) Are Left-Wing Party Strength and Corporatism Good for the Environment? Evidence from Panel Analysis of Air Pollution in OECD Countries. Ecological Economics 45(2): 203220.
Nisbet, M. C. and Myers, T. (2007) The Polls – Trends – Twenty Years of Public Opinion About Global Warming. Public Opinion Quarterly 71(3): 444470.
Oehl, B. (2015) Public Demand and Climate Change Policy Making in OECD Countries – From Dynamics of the Demand to Policy Responsiveness, ETH Zürich Nr. 22537, http://ecollection.library.ethz.ch/view/eth:47706 (accessed 5 August 2016).
Olson, M. (1965) The Logic of Collective Action: Public Goods and the Theory of Groups. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Pelc, K. J. (2013) Googling the WTO: What Search-Engine Data Tell Us About the Political Economy of Institutions. International Organization 67(3): 629655.
Perloff, R. M. (1993) Third-Person Effect Research 1983–1992: A Review and Synthesis. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 5(2): 167184.
Persson, T. and Tabellini, G. E. (2002) Political Economics: Explaining Economic Policy. Boston, MA: MIT Press.
Peter, J. and Lauf, E. (2002) Reliability in Cross-National Content Analysis. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 79(4): 815832.
Powlick, P. (1995) The Sources of Public Opinion for American Foreign Policy Officials. International Studies Quarterly 39(4): 427451.
Ripberger, J. T. (2011) Capturing Curiosity: Using Internet Search Trends to Measure Public Attentiveness. Policy Studies Journal 39(2): 239259.
Roberts, T. J., Parks, B. C. and Vásquez, A. A. (2004) Who Ratifies Environmental Treaties and Why? Institutionalism, Structuralism and Participation by 192 Nations in 22 Treaties. Global Environmental Politics 4(3): 2265.
Sampei, Y. and Aoyagi-Usui, M. (2009) Mass-Media Coverage, its Influence on Public Awareness of Climate-Change Issues, and Implications for Japan’s National Campaign to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Global Environmental Change 19(2): 203212.
Schaffer, L. (2011) Voluntary Climate Change Initiatives in the U.S.: Analyzing Participation in Space and Time, ETH Zürich Nr. 19475, http://e-collection.library.ethz.ch/view/eth:2712?q= (accessed 5 August 2016).
Scharkow, M. and Vogelgesang, J. (2011) Measuring the Public Agenda Using Search Engine Queries. International Journal of Public Opinion 23(1): 104113.
Schmidt, A., Ivanova, A. and Schäfer, M. S. (2013) Media Attention for Climate Change Around the World: A Comparative Analysis of Newspaper Coverage in 27 Countries. Global Environmental Change 23(5): 12331248.
Spilker, G. (2011) Helpful Organizations: Membership in Inter-Governmental Organizations and Environmental Quality in Developing Countries. British Journal of Political Science 42(2): 345370.
Stamm, K. R., Clark, F. and Eblacas, P. R. (2000) Mass Communication and Public Understanding of Environmental Problems: The Case of Global Warming. Public Understanding of Science 9: 219237.
Stimson, J. A. (1999) Public Opinion in America: Moods, Cycles, and Swings. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Sun, Y., Pan, Z. and Shen, L. (2008) Understanding the Third-Person Perception: Evidence from a Meta-Analysis. Journal of Communication 58(2): 280300.
Vliegenthart, R., Schuck, A. R. T., Boomgaarden, H. G. and De Vreese, C. H. (2008) News Coverage and Support for European Integration, 1990-2006. International Journal of Public Opinion Research 20(4): 415439.
Vliegenthart, R. and Walgrave, S. (2008) The Contingency of Intermedia Agenda Setting: A Longitudinal Study in Belgium. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 85(4): 860877.
Wallsten, K. (2007) Agenda Setting and the Blogosphere: An Analysis of the Relationship Between Mainstream Media and Political Blogs. Review of Policy Research 24(6): 567587.
Weingart, P., Engels, A. and Pansegrau, P. (2000) Risks of Communication: Discourses on Climate Change in Science, Politics, and the Mass Media. Public Understanding of Science 9(3): 261283.
Young, L. and Soroka, S. (2012) Affective News: The Automated Coding of Sentiment in Political Texts. Political Communication 29(2): 205231.
Zaller, J. (1992) The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Zhao, X. (2009) Media Use and Global Warming Perceptions. Communication Research 36(5): 698723.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Public Policy
  • ISSN: 0143-814X
  • EISSN: 1469-7815
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-public-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Oehl supplementary material
Appendix B

 Word (1.4 MB)
1.4 MB
WORD
Supplementary materials

Oehl supplementary material
Appendix A

 Word (50 KB)
50 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed