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Inequality and Electoral Accountability: Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective

Hicks, TM; Jacobs, AM; Matthews, JS; (2016) Inequality and Electoral Accountability: Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective. Journal of Politics , 78 (4) pp. 1076-1093. 10.1086/686157. Green open access

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Abstract

Do electorates hold governments accountable for the distribution of economic welfare? Building on the finding of “class-biased economic voting” in the United States, we exam- ine how OECD electorates respond to alternative distributions of income gains and losses. Drawing on individual-level electoral data and aggregate election results across 15 advanced democracies, we examine whether lower- and middle-income voters defend their distributive interests by punishing governments for concentrating income gains among the rich. We find no indication that non-rich voters punish rising inequality, and substantial evidence that electorates positively reward the concentration of aggregate income growth at the top. Our results suggest that governments commonly face political incentives systematically skewed in favor of inegalitarian economic outcomes. At the same time, we find that the electorate’s tolerance of rising inequality has its limits: class biases in economic voting diminish as the income shares of the rich grow in magnitude.

Type: Article
Title: Inequality and Electoral Accountability: Class-Biased Economic Voting in Comparative Perspective
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1086/686157
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1086/686157
Language: English
Additional information: This is the published version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Economic voting, Income inequality, Political inequality, Democratic accountability
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1475464
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