Economic Interests, Worldviews, and Identities: Theory and Evidence on Ideational Politics

78 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2021 Last revised: 13 Jan 2022

See all articles by Elliott Ash

Elliott Ash

ETH Zürich

Sharun Mukand

University of Warwick - Department of Economics

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2021

Abstract

We distinguish between ideational and interest-based appeals to voters on the supply side of politics, and integrate the Keynes-Hayek perspective on the importance of ideas with the Stigler-Becker approach emphasizing vested interests. In our model, political entrepreneurs discover identity and worldview “memes” (narratives, cues, frames) that shift beliefs about voters’ identities or their views of how the world works. We identify a complementarity between worldview politics and identity politics and illustrate how they may reinforce each other. Furthermore, we show how adverse economic shocks may result in a greater incidence of ideational politics. We use these results to analyze data on 60,000 televised political ads in U.S. localities over the years 2000 through 2018. Our empirical work quantifies ideational politics and provides support for the key model implications, including the impact of higher inequality on both identity and worldview politics.

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Suggested Citation

Ash, Elliott and Mukand, Sharun and Rodrik, Dani, Economic Interests, Worldviews, and Identities: Theory and Evidence on Ideational Politics (November 2021). NBER Working Paper No. w29474, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3963702

Elliott Ash (Contact Author)

ETH Zürich ( email )

Rämistrasse 101
ZUE F7
Zürich, 8092
Switzerland

Sharun Mukand

University of Warwick - Department of Economics ( email )

Coventry CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

Dani Rodrik

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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