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Political Science and Political Economy Research Seminar

Economic inequality, political polarization and voter turnout

Erika Pini (UCLouvain)

Tuesday 31 January 2023 14:00 - 15:30

Many of our seminars and public events this year will continue as in person or as hybrid (online and in person) events. Please check our website listings and Twitter feed @STICERD_LSE for updates.

Unless otherwise specified, in-person seminars are open to the public.

Those unable to join the seminars in-person are welcome to participate via zoom if the event is hybrid.


About this event

Rising economic inequality has often been associated with either increasing political polarization or decreasing voter turnout. The first link has strong empirical support, while for the second one the evidence is mixed. In this paper, I propose a theoretical model of political competition and provide a unified explanation for these trends, by accounting for the interconnections between inequality, polarization and turnout. I show that the direct effect of inequality on turnout is not straightforward. When candidates' polarization is initially low, rising economic inequality tends to decrease turnout; the opposite is true for initially high polarization. However, an increase in inequality also induces candidates to adapt their platforms and increases polarization, which has an indirect effect on participation. Finally, although inequality increases the demand for redistribution in the electorate, because of higher polarization, it may provide an advantage to the candidate who proposes less redistribution.

The Political Science and Political Economy (PSPE) research group at the LSE brings together faculty and PhD students who do quantitative and/or formal research on political institutions, political behaviour, public policy, and political economy.

The PSPE Research Seminar provides a venue for researchers (mostly from outside of the LSE) to present their work.

These seminars are held on Tuesdays in term time at 14.00-15.30, both ONLINE AND IN PERSON in room SAL 3.05, unless specified otherwise.

Seminar coordinator: Mathilde Emeriau

Contact gov.comms@lse.ac.uk to be added to the mailing list and to recieve the zoom link.

For further information please contact Maddie Giles: gov.comms@lse.ac.uk.