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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 5 No. 2 (May 2013)

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Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?

Article Citation

Brunner, Eric, Stephen L. Ross, and Ebonya Washington. 2013. "Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?" American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 5(2): 53-76.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.5.2.53

Abstract

We assemble a novel dataset of matched legislative and constituent votes and demonstrate that less income does not mean less representation. We show: (i) The opinions of high- and low-income voters are highly correlated; the legislator's vote often reflects the desire of both. (ii) What differences in representation by income exist vary by legislator party. Republicans more often vote the will of their higher income over their lower income constituents; Democratic legislators do the reverse. (iii) Differences in representation by income are largely explained by the correlation between constituent income and party affiliation. (JEL D31, D72)

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Authors

Brunner, Eric (GA State U)
Ross, Stephen L. (U CT)
Washington, Ebonya (Yale U)

JEL Classifications

D31: Personal Income, Wealth, and Their Distributions
D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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