03 April, 2008

The partisan political economy

Provocative stuff, from Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels:


Check out Rodrik for more. I found this graph a bit hard to read, but what it is pointing out is the average annual income growth, historically, in years when a Democrat is president versus years in which a Republican is president. That growth is also broken down by income percentile. What we see is not only that Democratic presidencies favor those in lower income percentiles (the Democratic line slopes downward) but that everybody's income growth is higher under Democrats, regardless of total income (the lowest point on the Democratic line is still higher than the highest point on the Republican line).

This is all from Bartels' new book, which is not out yet, but is already creating a stir with new research like that above showing very forcefully that income inequality is a political, rather than solely economic, phenomenon. There will surely be questions as to methodology, etc, but Rodrik takes apart some of the most obvious refutations (Republicans are just cleaning up after Democratic excesses, etc) and comes away pretty convinced. And as Spencer would say, Rodrik is always right.

Update: Krugman comments on the same graph, comparing Bartels to Alfred Wegener. Who was Alfred Wegener? You'll just have to click the link.

Update II: Kevin Drum joins the discussion...3 years ago (h/t DeLong)

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