Demographic Change and Political Polarization in the United States

22 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2018 Last revised: 2 Jun 2020

Date Written: February 1, 2020

Abstract

I construct an index of political polarization using seven previously used measures. I estimate the relative propensity for polarization across demographic groups and examine the extent to which demographic change can explain recent trends in polarization. Assuming fixed propensities for polarization across groups, 34 percent of the change in polarization between 1984 and 2016 can be attributed to demographic change in the United States. Shifts in the educational, religious, and age compositions of the United States are the main contributing factors.

Keywords: mass polarization; partisan animosity; affective polarization; education

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Boxell, Levi, Demographic Change and Political Polarization in the United States (February 1, 2020). Economics Letters, Vol. 192, No. 109187, 2020. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3148805 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3148805

Levi Boxell (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA
United States

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