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The Effect of Economic Priorities on the Measurement of Value Change: New Experimental Evidence

Harold D. Clarke, Allan Kornberg, Chris McIntyre, Petra Bauer-Kaase and Max Kaase
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 93, No. 3 (Sep., 1999), pp. 637-647
DOI: 10.2307/2585579
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2585579
Page Count: 11
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The Effect of Economic Priorities on the Measurement of Value Change: New Experimental Evidence
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Abstract

The Euro-Barometer values battery has provided much of the empirical evidence for the thesis that a shift from materialist to postmaterialist values has occurred in advanced industrial societies over the past two decades. It has been argued, however, that this widely used instrument is seriously flawed because of its sensitivity to current economic conditions. We present data from experiments in Canada and Germany that tested the performance of the values battery in an era of joblessness. Analyses reveal that (1) substituting an unemployment statement for the standard inflation statement in the battery has major consequences for the classification of respondents as materialist or postmaterialist and (2) answers to the battery are conditioned by the interaction between its content and respondents' economic issue concerns. These findings support the argument that much of the shift from materialist to postmaterialist values recorded by the Euro-Barometer since the early 1980s is a measurement artifact.

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