Office Parties: Partisan Sorting in the United States Labor Market

64 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2023 Last revised: 7 Feb 2024

See all articles by Justin Frake

Justin Frake

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Reuben Hurst

University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business

Max Kagan

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

Date Written: February 1, 2024

Abstract

Despite a growing literature showing that Americans are increasingly geographically and socially sorted along political lines, there exists no large-scale estimate of the degree to which Americans are sorted by political partisanship at work. This is despite the large and important role the workplace plays in cultivating cross-partisan contact. We address this gap using a novel longitudinal dataset created by merging voter registration data with 17 million online employee profiles covering 14.5 million unique workers from 2012–2022. We present four main findings. First, partisans are sorted by workplace. We estimate that the average Democratic worker’s co-workers are about 15 percentage points more Democratic than the average Republican’s co-workers, and vice versa. Accounting for factors correlated with partisanship—geography, occupation, and industry—reduces this estimate to about 2 percentage points, which is similar in magnitude to our estimates of workplace sorting by gender and race. Second, sorting is more pronounced among white workers, more senior workers, and workers that are more politically active. Third, since 2017, political sorting has increased among new joiners to firms. Fourth, because Democrats comprise a greater share of the workforce, sorting means that Republicans experience a significantly larger share of out-partisan coworkers. We conclude by outlining avenues for future research regarding the origins and consequences of workplace partisan sorting.

Keywords: partisan sorting, polarization, labor markets, business and politics

JEL Classification: J7, J70, J71, J78, J79

Suggested Citation

Frake, Justin and Hurst, Reuben and Kagan, Max, Office Parties: Partisan Sorting in the United States Labor Market (February 1, 2024). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4639165 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4639165

Justin Frake

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Reuben Hurst

University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business ( email )

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/umich.edu/reubenhurst

Max Kagan (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science

210 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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