Consequences of Economic Inequality for Presidential Elections in U.S.

In a new report on income inequality, authors James Galbraith and Jaehee Choi examine whether there is an association between income inequality and American presidential politics. An excerpt from the introduction follows:

For the first three decades following the end of the Second World War, economic inequality barely figured as a topic of economic research, and some major preoccupations, notably in growth theory, presupposed stability in functional shares. But this changed as evidence of rising inequality began to emerge for the United States in the late 1970s, and by the early 1990s a robust debate over the sources of rising inequality was underway, which spread to all the advanced countries and beyond, especially as the publication of the Deininger-Squire/World Bank (1996) compilation of past surveys opened a path toward empirical investigation at global scale.

Given that US presidential elections are decided on a state-by-state basis through a winner-take-all allocation of votes in the Electoral College, we ask whether and to what degree levels or changes of economic inequality at the level of individual states affect the partisan alignment of those states and therefore the outcome of US presidential elections.

Read/download the full report here.