Subnational economic inequality in the United States 1969–2008 : new metrics and connections to electoral behavior
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Measures of American inequality offer sparse coverage of subnational units and rely on surveys of self-reported family and household incomes. This dissertation details the development of new inequality datasets at the county, state, and national levels from alternative lenses: sector wages; industry earnings; and average incomes. Sector and industry data are particularly rich, detailed, consistent, and reliable. These new metrics from underutilized data sources contribute to debates over the lived effects of inequality. American economic inequality concentrates in some places more than others, arising from different causes. This dissertation considers ecological associations between inequality, voter turnout, and election outcomes at the state and county levels and multilevel models of individual participation and candidate preference, with voters nested within their state contexts. Aggregate voter turnout has been lower in states with higher levels of income inequality for the last several presidential elections, though this relationship did not strengthen with rising inequality. Likewise, some inequalities have strong associations with state- and county-level presidential election outcomes in certain years, but the patterns are irregular. Multilevel models of voters in states do not indicate a strong relationship among inequality per se and individual behavior.
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