This article investigates participation bias in the European Commission's online consultations by focusing on issue characteristics and using a cost–benefit framework. The main assumption is that a group will choose not to participate when their participation costs exceed the expected benefits. This leads to a more biased participation pattern. We expect this to hold when the proposal discussed in a consultation is more complex, whereas the opposite is the case if the proposal is more salient. Furthermore, we expect there to be an interaction effect between complexity and salience. We test and find support for these expectations in an analysis of more than 350 consultations held between 2001 and 2012.
This article has been accepted and published.