Voting and Income in the U.S. and Europe

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"Voting and Income in the U.S. and Europe"

I wrote over here that “[i]n the US and in Europe, income level is fairly predictive of voting behavior.” That’s broadly true, but as Andrew Gelman pointed out to me in an email, it obscures some major differences. His book Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State includes this graph summarizing international differences in the extent to which high income leads to conservative voting:

fig74.png

I think it’s probably better not to think too much about the Eastern Europe and Latin America cases here and limit our attention to the rich countries. As you can see, it’s generally true that in Western Europe, as in the United States, being rich seems to make you favorable to parties of the right. But there are some exceptions to this rule. And in general, the rich-poor gap is not as sharp as in the US. This is intertwined with the fact that the economic gap between rich and poor is not as large and the fact that the ideological gap between the parties is not as big. In some of these countries, though, I would be interested to know how the parties are being coded. Based on my understanding of the Swiss party system, for example, I’m not sure which party I would label as the “conservative” one—they basically seem to have one left-wing party and then three different flavors of conservative parties.

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