Wall Street, Main Street, and Pennsylvania Avenue : the effect of stock ownership on political behavior in the U.S.
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This dissertation examines the effect of stock ownership on individuals' political behavior. I analyzed not only individual-level data to examine the effect of stock ownership on their economic knowledge and policy preferences but also macro-level data to analyze the change of ideology and relationship between presidential approval rate, macroeconomic indicators such as stock market indexes, unemployment rate, inflation rate, and consumer confidence. Additionally, I analyzed how the media treated stock market news politically over the past three decades. To understand how the traditional media treats Wall Street news over the decades, I analyzed the New York Times from 1981 to 2012 and USA Today from 1991 to 2012 by Wordfish and topic models and found that Wall Street news became political news, especially during the economic crisis and presidential election years. Despite conservative policy analysts predicting that owning stocks makes people's political behavior change and that stockowners will support the Republican Party, I find that the effect of stock ownership is different between direct and indirect stockowners. Because a lot of indirect stockowners own stocks just because their companies provided employees stock-related products such as a 401(k) as part of their benefits, indirect stockowners are less active than direct stockowners in terms of their financial managements. The policy attitudes are also different depending on the policies themselves. That is, the stockowners' effect is conditional. I also find that even though stockowners are familiar with the current stock market conditions, their knowledge about other macroeconomic indicators at is the same level as non-stockowners.