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Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?

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  • Eric Brunner
  • Stephen L. Ross
  • Ebonya Washington

Abstract

We assemble a novel dataset of matched legislative and constituent votes and demonstrate that less income does not mean less representation. We show: (i) The opinions of high- and low-income voters are highly correlated; the legislator's vote often reflects the desire of both. (ii) What differences in representation by income exist vary by legislator party. Republicans more often vote the will of their higher income over their lower income constituents; Democratic legislators do the reverse. (iii) Differences in representation by income are largely explained by the correlation between constituent income and party affiliation. (JEL D31, D72)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (May)
Pages: 53-76

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:53-76

Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.2.53
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  1. Andrew Leigh, 2005. "Economic Voting and Electoral Behaviour: How do Individual, Local and National Factors Affect the Partisan Choice?," CEPR Discussion Papers 489, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  2. Atif Mian & Amir Sufi & Francesco Trebbi, 2010. "The Political Economy of the US Mortgage Default Crisis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 100(5), pages 1967-98, December.
  3. Eric J. Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya L. Washington, 2011. "Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?," NBER Working Papers 16835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Lind, Jo Thori & Rhoner, Dominic, 2011. "Knowledge is Power: A Theory of Information, Income, and Welfare Spending," Memorandum 26/2011, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  2. Reiner Eichenberger & David Stadelmann & Marco Portmann, 2012. "A comparative analysis of the voting behavior of constituents and their representatives for public debts," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 23(3), pages 244-260, September.
  3. Potrafke, Niklas, 2013. "Evidence on the political principal-agent problem from voting on public finance for concert halls," Munich Reprints in Economics 19268, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  4. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2013. "How do Female Preferences Influence Political Decisions by Female and Male Representatives?," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79748, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  5. Eric J. Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya L. Washington, 2011. "Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?," NBER Working Papers 16835, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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