NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Does Less Income Mean Less Representation?

Eric J. Brunner, Stephen L. Ross, Ebonya L. Washington

NBER Working Paper No. 16835
Issued in February 2011
NBER Program(s):   POL

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.

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This paper was revised on January 31, 2012

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

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