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Who is left-wing, and who just thinks they are?

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  • James Rockey

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Abstract

A common assumption in political economy is that there exists a consistent and well defined policy space. Often, this space is assumed to be adequately represented by a single `left' - `right' dimension. This paper makes the case that it is not only convenient but also meaningful to talk of the left and the right. Motivated, in part, by recent work in political psychology, this paper compares how individuals place themselves on a left-right scale with their answers to substantive policy questions, to provide evidence that the left-right scale has a consistent meaning across time and place. It is also finds consistent differences in how different demographic groups perceive the `left'-`right' continuum. In particular, it finds important differences associated with ageing, gender, income and education. It provides evidence that this is true for both abstract alternatives and concrete choices, questions of redistribution and broader conceptions of social justice. Heterogeneity is taken seriously, analysing variation within cohorts defined by country, date of birth, and gender - a variety of different forms are hypothesised, tested for, and rejected. Finally, it provides evidence that increases in income may lead to increased levels of political polarisation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Leicester in its series Discussion Papers in Economics with number 09/23.

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Date of creation: Sep 2009
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Handle: RePEc:lec:leecon:09/23

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Related research

Keywords: Ideology; Voter Preferences; Voting; Polarization;

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

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  1. Toke Aidt & Bianca Dallal, 2008. "Female voting power: the contribution of women’s suffrage to the growth of social spending in Western Europe (1869–1960)," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(3), pages 391-417, March.
  2. Immervoll, Herwig & Kleven, Henrik & Kreiner, Claus Thustrup & Saez, Emmanuel, 2004. "Welfare Reform in European Countries: A Micro-Simulation Analysis," CEPR Discussion Papers 4324, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Alberto F. Alesina & Paola Giuliano, 2009. "Preferences for Redistribution," NBER Working Papers 14825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Cavalcanti, Tiago & Tavares, José, 2006. "Women Prefer Larger Governments: Growth, Structural Transformation and Government Size," CEPR Discussion Papers 5667, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2008. "Gender gaps in policy making: Evidence from direct democracy in Switzerland," Economics Working Papers 1126, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  6. Lena Edlund & Rohini Pande, 2002. "Why Have Women Become Left-Wing? The Political Gender Gap And The Decline In Marriage," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 117(3), pages 917-961, August.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Do people think of themselves as further left than they really are?
    by Chris Bertram in Crooked Timber on 2010-08-02 17:36:40
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Cited by:
  1. McKenzie, David & Ozler, Berk, 2011. "The impact of economics blogs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5783, The World Bank.

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