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Growth, inequality, and party support: Valence and positional economic voting

Author

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  • Ruth Dassonneville
  • Michael S. Lewis-Beck

Abstract

Economic growth helps governments get reelected. But does growth, as a valence issue, exhaust the possibilities for the economic vote? What about the impact of inequality, as as a positional economic issue? Can rising economic inequality make or break a government, independent of the country’s growth trajectory? We show, via an examination of 310 elections in established democracies, across time and space, that growth and inequality both matter for incumbent government support. Somewhat surprisingly, we find that both left-wing and right-wing incumbents are held accountable for changes in inequality. While these effects appear unaltered by structural factors such as federalism or the electoral system, their impact seems to depend, to some extent, on whether the country is going through economic hard times.

Suggested Citation

  • Ruth Dassonneville & Michael S. Lewis-Beck, 2018. "Growth, inequality, and party support: Valence and positional economic voting," Working Papers. Collection A: Public economics, governance and decentralization 1804, Universidade de Vigo, GEN - Governance and Economics research Network.
  • Handle: RePEc:gov:wpaper:1804
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    File URL: http://infogen.webs.uvigo.es/WP/WP1804.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2018
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dassonneville, Ruth & Lewis-Beck, Michael S., 2013. "Economic Policy Voting and Incumbency: Unemployment in Western Europe," Political Science Research and Methods, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(1), pages 53-66, June.
    2. Beck, Nathaniel & Katz, Jonathan N., 1995. "What To Do (and Not to Do) with Time-Series Cross-Section Data," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 89(3), pages 634-647, September.
    3. Bloom, Howard S. & Price, H. Douglas, 1975. "Voter Response to Short-Run Economic Conditions: the Asymmetric Effect of Prosperity and Recession," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 69(4), pages 1240-1254, December.
    4. Michael Lewis-Beck & Mary Stegmaier, 2013. "The VP-function revisited: a survey of the literature on vote and popularity functions after over 40 years," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 367-385, December.
    5. De Sio, Lorenzo & Weber, Till, 2014. "Issue Yield: A Model of Party Strategy in Multidimensional Space," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 108(4), pages 870-885, November.
    6. Burkhart, Ross E. & Lewis-Beck, Michael S., 1994. "Comparative Democracy: The Economic Development Thesis," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 88(4), pages 903-910, December.
    7. Frederick Solt, 2016. "The Standardized World Income Inequality Database," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 97(5), pages 1267-1281, November.
    8. Lewis-Beck, Michael S. & Nadeau, Richard & Foucault, Martial, 2013. "The Compleat Economic Voter: New Theory and British Evidence," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 43(2), pages 241-261, April.
    9. Stokes, Donald E., 1963. "Spatial Models of Party Competition," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 57(2), pages 368-377, June.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Economic voting; growth; inequality; valence; positional economic voting; social welfare spending.;

    JEL classification:

    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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