NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Eric J. Brunner

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Working Papers

February 2011Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?
with Stephen L. Ross, Ebonya L. Washington: w16835
We assemble a novel dataset of matched legislative and constituent votes and demonstrate that less income does not mean less representation. We show 1) The opinions of high and low income voters are highly correlated; the legislator’s vote often reflects the desire of both. 2) 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. 3) Differences in representation by income are largely explained by the correlation between constituent income and party affiliation.
June 2008Economics and Ideology: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposals
with Stephen L. Ross, Ebonya L. Washington: w14091
Using California ballot proposition returns and exogenous shifts to labor demand, we provide the first large-scale causal evidence of the impact of economic conditions on policy preferences. Consistent with economic theory, we find that positive economic shocks decrease support for redistributive policies. More notably, we find evidence of a need for cognitive consistency in voting behavior as economic shocks have a smaller significant impact on voting on non-economic ballot issues. While we also demonstrate that positive shocks decrease turnout, we present evidence that our results reflect changes to the electorate’s preferences and not simply to its composition.

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