NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Left, Right, Left: Income, Learning and Political Dynamics

John Morrow, Michael Carter

NBER Working Paper No. 19498
Issued in October 2013
NBER Program(s):   DEV   POL

The political left turn in Latin America, which lagged its transition to liberalized market economies by a decade or more, challenges conventional economic explanations of voting behavior. This paper generalizes the forward-looking voter model to a broad range of dynamic, non-concave income processes. The model implies support for redistributive policies materializes rapidly if few prospects of upward mobility are present. In contrast, modeling voters' ideologically charged beliefs about income dynamics shows a slow and polarizing shift toward redistributive preferences occurs. Simulation using fitted income dynamics suggests that imperfect information better accounts for the shift back to the left, and offers additional insights about political dynamics.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w19498

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