Risk Inequality and the Polarized American Electorate

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British Journal of Political Science (2011), 41: 363-387

Autore: Philipp Rehm

Abstract

Why has the American political landscape grown more partisan since the 1970s? This article provides a novel account of the determinants of partisanship. The author argues that partisanship is not only shaped by the traditionally suggested socio-economic factors, but also by the uncertainty of future income (risk exposure): rich individuals facing a high degree of risk exposure (or poor people facing low risk exposure) are ‘cross-pressured’; while their income suggests that they should identify with the Republicans, their income prospects make them sympathize with the Democrats. These two traits have overlapped increasingly since the 1970s. Those with lower incomes tend to be also those with higher risk exposure (risk inequality increased). This has led to a sorting of the American electorate: more citizens have become ‘natural’ partisans.

Full text: http://polisci.osu.edu/faculty/rehm/Rehm_BJPS.pdf