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Economic Voting and Electoral Behaviour: How do Individual, Local and National Factors Affect the Partisan Choice?

  • Andrew Leigh

What impact do income and other demographic factors have on a voter’s partisan choice? Using post-election surveys of 14,000 voters in ten Australian elections between 1966 and 2001, I explore the impact that individual, local and national factors have on voters’ decisions. In these ten elections, the poor, foreign-born, younger voters, voters born since 1950, men, and those who are unmarried are more likely to be left-wing. Over the past 35 years, the partisan gap between men and women has closed, but the partisan gap has widened on three dimensions: between young and old; between rich and poor; and between native-born and foreign-born. At a neighbourhood level, I find that, controlling for a respondent’s own characteristics, and instrumenting for neighbourhood characteristics, voters who live in richer neighbourhoods are more likely to be right-wing, while those in more ethnically diverse or unequal neighbourhoods are more likely to be left-wing. Controlling for incumbency, macroeconomic factors do not seem to affect partisan preferences – Australian voters apparently regard both major parties as equally capable of governing in booms and busts.

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File URL: https://www.cbe.anu.edu.au/researchpapers/cepr/DP489.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 489.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:auu:dpaper:489
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  1. Dustmann, Christian & Preston, Ian, 1998. "Attitudes to Ethnic Minorities, Ethnic Context and Location Decisions," CEPR Discussion Papers 1942, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Cameron, L. & Crosby, M., 1999. "It's the Economy Stupid?," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 699, The University of Melbourne.
  3. Andrew Leigh, 2004. "Deriving Long-Run Inequality Series from Tax Data," CEPR Discussion Papers 476, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Research School of Economics, Australian National University.
  4. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
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