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Social Polarization and Partisan Voting in Representative Democracies

Dominik Duell and Justin Mattias Valasek

No 7040, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich

Abstract: While scholars and pundits alike have expressed concern regarding increasing social polarization based on partisan identity, there has been little analysis of how social polarization impacts voting. In this paper, we incorporate social identity into a principal-agent model of political representation and characterize the influence of social polarization on partisan voting. We show that social identity has an indirect effect on voting through voters’ beliefs regarding the ex post decision of political representatives on top of a direct effect through an expressive channel. We conduct a laboratory experiment designed to identify the relative effect of the two channels. We find that social polarization causes partisan voting, and that up to fifty-five percent of partisan voting is due to the indirect effect of social identity.

Keywords: social identity; partisan voting; social polarization; political polarization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
Date: 2018
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