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Pitfalls of International Comparative Research: Taking Acquiescence into Account

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Franzen Axel , Vogl Dominikus ,
Project MOSAiCH 2011
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Economics and Statistics {(Jahrbuecher} fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik)
Volume (Issue) 231(5-6)
Page(s) 761 - 782
Title of proceedings Journal of Economics and Statistics {(Jahrbuecher} fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik)


Acquiescence can be the source of a serious response bias in international comparative research. We demonstrate this by referring to an example taken from environmental sociology. The effect of wealth on individuals’ willingness to pay for environmental protection is controversially discussed in the literature. Studies analyzing the International Social Survey Programme {(ISSP)} report that individuals in wealthier nations are more concerned about the environment, while studies using the World Values Survey {(WVS)} or the European Values Study {(EVS)} come up with the opposite finding. The puzzle is resolved when the different levels of acquiescence are taken into consideration. As it turns out, respondents in poorer nations in Asia and Eastern Europe have higher levels of acquiescence than respondents in {richerWestern} nations. Thus, acquiescence conceals the wealth effect of studies analyzing the {WVS} or {EVS} and the issue is resolved when acquiescence is properly controlled for in multivariate statistical models.