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The political consequences of ethnic tension: Theory and evidence


  • Kemal Kivanc Akoz
  • K Peren Arin
  • Christina Zenker


By counting the number of articles published in major US newspapers containing carefully selected keywords, we construct a time varying measure of ethnic tension. Then, we empirically test the predictions of a theoretical model by using the aforementioned measure, and investigate how ethnic tension affects presidential approval ratings by different ethnic groups. Our results show that while ethnic tension decreases the approval by white voters, the opposite is true for the approval by African American voters. Further scrutiny reveals that this may be explained by the fact that government transfers to African Americans increase as a result of higher ethnic tension.

Suggested Citation

  • Kemal Kivanc Akoz & K Peren Arin & Christina Zenker, 2016. "The political consequences of ethnic tension: Theory and evidence," CAMA Working Papers 2016-72, Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.
  • Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2016-72

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    Ethnic Tension; Presidential Approval; Government Transfers;

    JEL classification:

    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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