What sort of Brexit do the British people want?

A proof-of-concept study using stated preference discrete choice experiments: Technical addendum

by Charlene Rohr, Alexandra Pollitt, David Howarth, Hui Lu, Jonathan Grant

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Research Questions

  1. What key attributes as part of the UK's relationship with the EU — that are likely to form a part of Brexit negotiations — do the British public value as most important?
  2. What are the British public's views on the detailed choices on offer during the UK's negotiations to leave the EU?
  3. To what extent do the views of the British public on the value placed on different attributes as part of the UK's negotiations to leave the EU vary across the British population?

This proof-of-concept study uses stated preference discrete choice experiments to explore and quantify how the British public value key dimensions of a future relationship with Europe, including freedom of movement for holidays, freedom of movement for working and living, contributions to the EU, free trade with other countries, access to the EU single market for goods and services and sovereignty. The study report provides details of the technical aspects of the work, including the survey methodology, the design of the experiments and the model analysis. A companion report summarises the key policy findings. In terms of methodology, we conclude that people were able to undertake the choice experiments, even though they were complex — both because of the abstract nature of the choices and the number of attributes and levels. The resulting model indicates that those dimensions directly influencing the economy — such as free trade deals with countries outside the EU and access to the EU single-market — are valued most highly, and that preferences vary significantly by education level. Using the model results we find that Britons place a negative value on a 'no deal' option of about £14 per household per week of EU expenditure relative to the status quo (noting that the absolute values derived from the study should be used to provide order-of-magnitude estimates). Having a relationship like Norway is valued positively at about £14 per household per week of EU expenditure relative to the status quo.

Key Findings

  • The British public want a deal on Brexit and are willing to compromise to get one. Netting out the positives and negatives, the current situation of EU membership is worth about £14 per household per week more than leaving the EU with no deal.
  • The British public place the greatest value on the ability to make trade deals and having access to the Single Market for trade of Goods and Services after Brexit, more so than restricting freedom of movement, increased sovereignty and reduced EU contribution.
  • The British public seem to be more concerned with restricting demand for public services than simply restricting freedom of movement, particularly those who voted to leave the EU.
  • Education level was the most important explanatory variable in quantifying people's preferences. Overall, those with university degrees preferred closer ties to the EU, while those with no qualifications preferred greater institutional distance from the EU.
  • Given the importance of making trade deals and access to the Single Market, the public place a positive value on a relationship like Norway's current relationship with the EU, allowing for free trade with other countries while remaining within the single market, and accepting freedom of movement and some loss of sovereignty.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background

  • Chapter Two

    Designing the stated preference discrete choice experiments

  • Chapter Three

    Findings from the stated preference discrete choice experiments

  • Chapter Four

    How can we use the choice modelling results to inform Brexit negotiations?

  • Chapter Five

    Methodological findings and recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Fieldwork and characteristics of the survey sample

  • Appendix B

    Detailed choice model results

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was a collaboration between The Policy Institute at King's College, Professor David Howarth and researchers at the University of Cambridge and RAND Europe.

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