NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
loading...

Stereotypes and Politics

Pedro Bordalo, Marco Tabellini, David Y. Yang

NBER Working Paper No. 27194
Issued in May 2020
NBER Program(s):Political Economy

We examine US voters’ beliefs about views held by Republicans and Democrats. While individuals exaggerate partisan differences on a range of socioeconomic and political issues, we document that belief distortions are larger on issues that individuals consider more important. We organize these facts using a model of stereotypes where distortions are stronger for issues that are more salient to voters. In line with the model, belief distortions are predictable from the differences across parties, in particular the relative prevalence of extreme attitudes. To assess the impact of issue salience, we show that the end of the Cold War in 1991, which shifted US voters’ attention away from external threats and towards domestic issues, led to an increase in perceived polarization in the latter, and more so for issues with more stereotypical partisan differences. The reverse pattern occurred after the terrorist attacks in 2001, when attention swung back towards external threats. The distortions we identify are quantitatively significant, and could have important consequences for political engagement as such distortions strongly predict voting turnout.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w27194

 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us