How Does Wealth Impact Political Behavior? Evidence from a Government-sponsored Intervention
27 Pages Posted: 16 May 2016 Last revised: 17 Nov 2016
Date Written: November 16, 2016
In this study, we use the introduction of a government-sponsored intervention in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in order to isolate the effect of wealth on voting, which is difficult to identify due to the correlation between affluence and other factors that predict partisanship. We show that the government program caused a downward shock in private transportation costs, and thereby a relative increase in home prices in affected areas. We then use three measures of voting behavior to demonstrate the robustness of subsequent effects on political behavior, one of which is computed at the individual level. We rule out explanations related to community change, turnout, or rising incomes. We also replicate the design in Ohio. Exit poll data suggest that concern over taxes is a primary mechanism explaining the rise of conservative voting in response to the upward wealth shock.
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