Political Economy

All Politics is Local? Evidence from Foreclosures and Voter Participation

Do people change their political participation in response to local economic shocks? This paper shows how local economic shocks in the form of foreclosures affected voter registration and voter turnout in California from 2004-2012. I use the spatial variation in foreclosures across Census blocks, but within Census tracts, to estimate how political participation changed in response to foreclosures. I find that bank repossessed foreclosures increase the number of new voter registrations and increase voter turnout. Each bank-owned foreclosure increases the number of new voter registrations by 0.39-persons and increases voter turnout by 0.25 percentage points (0.42%). Registered Democrats are disproportionately more likely to turnout to vote in response to neighborhood foreclosures, so vote shares for Democratic candidates increase as well. The results suggest that foreclosures convey information about local economic conditions, which mobilizes neighborhoods to vote.

Sequential Decision-Making with Group Identity (with Elliott Ash) (forthcoming in the Journal of Economic Psychology)

In sequential decision-making experiments, participants often conform to the decisions of others rather than reveal private information – resulting in less information produced and potentially lower payoffs for the group. This paper asks whether experimentally induced group identity affects players’ decisions to conform, even when payoffs are only a function of individual actions. As motivation for the experiment, we show that U.S. Supreme Court Justices in preliminary hearings are more likely to conform to their same-party predecessors when the share of predecessors from their party is high. Lab players, in turn, are more likely to conform to the decisions of in-group members when their share of in-group predecessors is high. We find that exposure to information from in-group members increases the probability of reverse information cascades (herding on the wrong choice), reducing average payoffs. Therefore, alternating decision-making across members of different groups may improve welfare in sequential decision-making contexts.