Mecro-Economic Voting: Local Information and Micro-Perceptions of the Macro-Economy

45 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2011

See all articles by Erik Snowberg

Erik Snowberg

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Marc N. Meredith

Independent

Stephen Ansolabehere

Harvard University - Department of Government

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 10, 2011

Abstract

We develop an incomplete-information theory of economic voting, where voters' perceptions of macro-economic performance are affected by economic conditions of people similar to themselves. Our theory alleviates two persistent issues in the literature: it shows how egotropic motivations can lead to behavior that appears sociotropic, and why relying exclusively on aggregate data may underestimate the amount of economic voting. We test our theory using both cross-sectional and time series data. We document new stylized facts in aggregate data: state-unemployment is robustly correlated with national economic evaluations and presidential support. A novel survey instrument that asks respondents their numerical assessment of the unemployment rate confirms that individuals' economic perceptions respond to the economic conditions of people similar to themselves. Further, these perceptions associate with individuals' vote choices.

Keywords: economic voting, local conditions, information, unemployment

Suggested Citation

Snowberg, Erik and Meredith, Marc N. and Ansolabehere, Stephen, Mecro-Economic Voting: Local Information and Micro-Perceptions of the Macro-Economy (May 10, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1856286 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1856286

Erik Snowberg (Contact Author)

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

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Pasadena, CA 91125
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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
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Marc N. Meredith

Independent

Stephen Ansolabehere

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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