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Aggregation Reversals and the Social Formation of Beliefs

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  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Bruce Sacerdote

Abstract

In the past two elections, richer people were more likely to vote Republican while richer states were more likely to vote Democratic. This switch is an aggregation reversal, where an individual relationship, like income and Republicanism, is reversed at some level of aggregation. Aggregation reversals can occur when an independent variable impacts an outcome both directly and indirectly through a correlation with beliefs. For example, income increases the desire for low taxes but decreases belief in Republican social causes. If beliefs are learned socially, then aggregation can magnify the connection between the independent variable and beliefs, which can cause an aggregation reversal. We estimate the model's parameters for three examples of aggregation reversals, and show with these parameters that the model predicts the observed reversals.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce Sacerdote, 2007. "Aggregation Reversals and the Social Formation of Beliefs," NBER Working Papers 13031, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:13031
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Giacomo A. M. Ponzetto & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2005. "Strategic Extremism: Why Republicans and Democrats Divide on Religious Values," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1283-1330.
    2. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2007. "Why does democracy need education?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 12(2), pages 77-99, June.
    3. Glenn Ellison & Drew Fudenberg, 1995. "Word-of-Mouth Communication and Social Learning," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 93-125.
    4. Matthew A. Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2004. "Media, Education and Anti-Americanism in the Muslim World," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(3), pages 117-133, Summer.
    5. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2008. "Education and Religion," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 2(2), pages 188-215.
    6. Ellison, Glenn & Fudenberg, Drew, 1993. "Rules of Thumb for Social Learning," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 101(4), pages 612-643, August.
    7. Rafael Di Tella & Sebastian Galiant & Ernesto Schargrodsky, 2007. "The Formation of Beliefs: Evidence from the Allocation of Land Titles to Squatters," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 209-241.
    8. Merlo, Antonio & Schotter, Andrew, 2003. "Learning by not doing: an experimental investigation of observational learning," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 116-136, January.
    9. Barberis, Nicholas & Shleifer, Andrei & Vishny, Robert, 1998. "A model of investor sentiment," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(3), pages 307-343, September.
    10. Jose A. Scheinkman & Wei Xiong, 2003. "Overconfidence and Speculative Bubbles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 111(6), pages 1183-1219, December.
    11. repec:hrv:faseco:30747159 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Kevin M. Murphy & Andrei Shleifer, 2004. "Persuasion in Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 435-439, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Brunner, Eric & Ross, Stephen L. & Washington, Ebonya, 2008. "Economics and Ideology: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposal," Working Papers 50, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    2. Brian Knight & Nathan Schiff, 2010. "Momentum and Social Learning in Presidential Primaries," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(6), pages 1110-1150.
    3. Joan Costa-Font & Marin Gemmill & Gloria Rubert, 2008. "Re-visiting the Health Care Luxury Good Hypothesis: Aggregation, Precision, and Publication Biases?," Working Papers in Economics 197, Universitat de Barcelona. Espai de Recerca en Economia.

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    JEL classification:

    • A1 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics

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