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Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?

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  • Eric J. Brunner
  • Stephen L. Ross
  • Ebonya L. 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 1) The opinions of high and low income voters are highly correlated; the legislator’s vote often reflects the desire of both. 2) 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. 3) Differences in representation by income are largely explained by the correlation between constituent income and party affiliation.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w16835.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16835.

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Date of creation: Feb 2011
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Publication status: published as Eric Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya Washington, 2013. "Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 53-76, May.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16835

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  1. Eric Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya Washington, 2013. "Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 53-76, May.
  2. Andrew Leigh, 2005. "Economic Voting And Electoral Behavior: How Do Individual, Local, And National Factors Affect The Partisan Choice?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 17, pages 265-296, 07.
  3. 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.
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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. 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.
  3. Niklas Potrafke, 2013. "Evidence on the political principal-agent problem from voting on public finance for concert halls," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 215-238, September.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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