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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16835
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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, July.
    2. 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 1967-1998, December.
    3. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jo Thori Lind & Dominic Rohner, 2017. "Knowledge is Power: A Theory of Information, Income and Welfare Spending," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 611-646, October.
    2. 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.
    3. David Stadelmann & Reiner Eichenberger & Marco Portmann, 2014. "Voting against the separation of powers between legislature and administration," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 25(2), pages 207-229, June.
    4. Felix Arnold & Ronny Freier & Magdalena Pallauf & David Stadelmann, 2016. "Voting for direct democratic participation: evidence from an initiative election," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 23(4), pages 716-740, August.
    5. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2015. "Income and policy choices: Evidence from parliamentary decisions and referenda," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 117-120.
    6. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2016. "The Influence of Party Affiliations on Representation of Voter Preferences in Majoritarian vs. Proportional Systems," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145705, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2013. "Quantifying parliamentary representation of constituents’ preferences with quasi-experimental data," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(1), pages 170-180.
    8. Serguei Kaniovski & David Stadelmann, 2015. "The Probability of Legislative Shirking: Estimation and Validation," CREMA Working Paper Series 2015-17, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    9. Stadelmann David & Portmann Marco & Eichenberger Reiner, 2016. "How Lobbying Affects Representation: Results for Majority-Elected Politicians," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(4), pages 1-7, October.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2015. "Military careers of politicians matter for national security policy," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 116(C), pages 142-156.
    13. 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.
    14. David Stadelmann & Marco Portmann & Reiner Eichenberger, 2012. "Do Female Representatives Adhere More Closely to Citizens’ Preferences Than Male Representatives?," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-02, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    15. David Stadelmann & Marco Portmann & Reiner Eichenberger, 2012. "Preference Representation and the Influence of Political Parties in Majoritarian vs. Proportional Systems: An Almost Ideal Empirical Test," CREMA Working Paper Series 2012-03, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    16. Eoin McGuirk & Nathaniel Hilger & Nicholas Miller, 2017. "No Kin In The Game: Moral Hazard and War in the U.S. Congress," NBER Working Papers 23904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2014. "The law of large districts: How district magnitude affects the quality of political representation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 128-140.
    18. Felix Arnold & Ronny Freier & Magdalena Pallauf & David Stadelmann, 2014. "Voting for Direct Democracy: Evidence from a Unique Popular Initiative in Bavaria," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1435, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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