Do Local Economic Conditions Matter in Vote Decisions?

October 28, 2009 - 17:20 - 19:00
Nador u. 9, Faculty Tower
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Diana Elena Burlacu

Abstract: Social scientists explain political behaviour of (a) individuals or (b) aggregates. Both perspectives are vital: individuals have their own preference but are influenced by others because they receive information and ideas. Accordingly, we must combine studies of macro and micro processes. I link survey data from the 2005 British Election Study in England and Wales with the BES Neighbourhood data using a multilevel model design in order to test for contextual effects on voting behaviour. The aim of this essay is to test whether, the socio-economic conditions in the area influence individual’s voting decision and the effect of their economic evaluations on these decisions. Specifically, I test for ward variation in the vote for Labour after taking into account the economic evaluations and socio-demographic characteristics of the respondents in a first case, and additionally the level of deprivation in the area, in the second case. The analysis provides evidence that there is political heterogeneity across the country – that people with similar socio-demographic characteristics living in different places vote differently. Additionally, the results emphasis that the higher the deprivation in the area the greater the likelihood of a person voting Labour. Traditional economic voting model is confirmed once again in this analysis: people reward the government for the economic performance of the country, but only if they hold the government responsible for it. However, the socio-economic conditions in the area do not have any additional effect on the respondents’ economic evaluations or opinions about government’s responsibility.