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Measuring Public Preferential Polarization

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  • Ugur Ozdemir

    (Wallis Institute of Political Economy - University of Rochester)

  • Ali Ihsan Ozkes

    (Department of Economics, Ecole Polytechnique - CNRS : UMR7176 - Polytechnique - X)

Abstract

We adapt an axiomatically derived measure of polarization due to Esteban and Ray (1994) to measure polarization of political preferences. Previous work used different measures such as variance, kurtosis, Cronbach's alpha, median distance to median and the mean distance between groups. Yet, none of these measures are theoretically connected to a notion of polarization. Although the initiation of the current one is in the lieu of income inequality measurement, it is conceptually suitable for preferential polarization as well. This paper offers a methodology for that purpose. The second contribution of the paper is that we use the Aldrich-McKelvey Scaling to correct for differential-item functioning in estimating ideal points of the individuals. We use the American National Election Survey Data for years between 1984-2008 to implement the theory offered in the paper. Our findings suggest that there is not a statistically significant increasing trend in polarization in this time period in many issue dimensions but there is an upward trend in the latent ideology dimension which is significant during the 1990s.

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Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number hal-00954497.

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Date of creation: 03 Mar 2014
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00954497

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  1. Alberto Alesina & Reza Baqir & William Easterly, 1999. "Public Goods And Ethnic Divisions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 114(4), pages 1243-1284, November.
  2. Esteban, J. & Ray, D., 1993. "On the Measurement of Polarization," UFAE and IAE Working Papers, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC) 221.93, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  3. Norman Schofield & Christopher Claassen & Ugur Ozdemir & Alexei Zakharov, 2011. "Estimating the effects of activists in two-party and multi-party systems: comparing the United States and Israel," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 483-518, April.
  4. Dennis J. Downey & Matt L. Huffman, 2001. "Attitudinal Polarization and Trimodal Distributions: Measurement Problems and Theoretical Implications," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 82(3), pages 494-505.
  5. John H. Evans, 2003. "Have Americans' Attitudes Become More Polarized?-An Update," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 84(1), pages 71-90.
  6. Krehbiel, Keith & Peskowitz, Zachary, 2012. "Legislative Organization and Ideal-Point Bias," Research Papers, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business 2124, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
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