Has income inequality or media fragmentation increased political polarization?
John Duca and
No 1206, Working Papers from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
The increasing polarization of Congressional voting patterns has been attributed to factors including generational shifts, economic conditions, increased media fragmentation, and greater income inequality. The first of these factors is difficult to test with time series data owing to the low frequency of generational shifts, while the tendency of business cycles to reverse suggests that economic cycles are unable to account for long-term shifts in polarization. This leaves two main possible long-run drivers: the increasingly fragmented state of American media as stressed by Prior (2005, 2007) and Duca and Saving (2012a), and increased income inequality, as emphasized by McCarty, Poole, and Rosenthal (2006, forthcoming) and Stiglitz (2012). ; Using statistical techniques suitable for analyzing variables with shifting long-run averages we find evidence indicating that media fragmentation has played a more important role than inequality, at least as tracked by available data and measures. Periods when the share of Americans with access to cable or satellite TV has risen are followed by upward shifts in polarization. Furthermore, our results suggest that the polarization arising from media fragmentation or inequality may make it more difficult to achieve the political consensus needed to address major challenges, such as the long-run fiscal imbalances facing the United States.
Keywords: Income inequality; media fragmentation; political polarization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 G11 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (2) Track citations by RSS feed
Downloads: (external link)
This item may be available elsewhere in EconPapers: Search for items with the same title.
Export reference: BibTeX
RIS (EndNote, ProCite, RefMan)
Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:fip:feddwp:1206
Ordering information: This working paper can be ordered from
Access Statistics for this paper
More papers in Working Papers from Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Contact information at EDIRC.
Bibliographic data for series maintained by Amy Chapman ().