Is Political Ideology Endogenous? Evidence from the Business Cycle

University of North Texas Working Paper No. 00-05

34 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2001  

Edward J. Lopez

Western Carolina University

Carlos D. Ramirez

George Mason University - Department of Economics; FDIC, Division of Insurance and Research

Date Written: November 2000

Abstract

We construct a time series of political party ideology, based on Poole and Rosenthal's (1997) NOMINATE scores, for the 1950-98 period. The results show that (1) party ideology has become increasingly more polarized over this period; and (2) that it is very sensitive to business cycle conditions. In particular, a worsening of economic conditions (e.g. higher inflation or unemployment) is associated with a decline of the relative difference in party ideology scores. Republicans tend to become "less conservative" relative to Democrats when either the unemployment or inflation rate increases. We obtain the same results using an equivalent time series based on ADA (Americans for Democratic Action) scores. That there is an important economic component in ADA and NOMINATE scores questions the ability to interpret these scores as proxies of legislator ideology. But the finding that political parties' platforms tend to converge during economic downturns is not inconsistent with the traditional Downsian-type approach of modeling party behavior.

Keywords: Legislator Ideology, Political Party Ideology, Legislator Voting

JEL Classification: D7, E6

Suggested Citation

Lopez, Edward J. and Ramirez, Carlos D., Is Political Ideology Endogenous? Evidence from the Business Cycle (November 2000). University of North Texas Working Paper No. 00-05. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=257524 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.257524

Edward J. Lopez (Contact Author)

Western Carolina University ( email )

College of Business
Forsyth 224C
Cullowhee, NC 28723
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.edwardjlopez.com

Carlos D. Ramirez

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Enterprise Hall MSN 3G4
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-1130 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

FDIC, Division of Insurance and Research

550 Seventeenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20057
United States

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