Income and Ideology: How Personality Traits, Cognitive Abilities, and Education Shape Political Attitudes

51 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2011  

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Jean-Robert Tyran

University of Vienna; University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Erik Wengström

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics

Date Written: January 27, 2011

Abstract

We find that cognitive abilities, educational attainment, and some personality traits indirectly affect ideological preferences through changes in income. The effects of changes in personality traits on ideology directly and indirectly through income are in the same direction. However, the indirect effects of cognitive abilities and education often offset the direct effects of these variables on ideological preferences. That is, increases in cognitive abilities and education significantly increase income, which reduces the tendency of individuals to express leftist preferences. These indirect effects are in some cases sizeable relative to direct effects. The indirect effects of cognitive abilities through income overwhelm the direct effects such that increasing IQ increases rightwing preferences. For ideological preferences over economic policy the indirect effects of advanced education also overwhelm the direct effects, such that individuals with higher education are more likely to express rightwing preferences than those with lower education.

Suggested Citation

Morton, Rebecca and Tyran, Jean-Robert and Wengström, Erik, Income and Ideology: How Personality Traits, Cognitive Abilities, and Education Shape Political Attitudes (January 27, 2011). Univ. of Copenhagen Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 11-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1768822 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1768822

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-998-3706 (Phone)

Jean-Robert Tyran (Contact Author)

University of Vienna ( email )

Oskar-Morgenstern-Platz 1
Vienna, Vienna 1090
Austria

HOME PAGE: http://homepage.univie.ac.at/jean-robert.tyran/

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark
+45 353 23 027 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/tyran/

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

77 Bastwick Street
London, EC1V 3PZ
United Kingdom

Erik Wengström

University of Copenhagen - Department of Economics ( email )

Øster Farimagsgade 5
Bygning 26
1353 Copenhagen K.
Denmark

HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.ku.dk/wengstrom

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