Diffusing Political Concerns: How Unemployment Information Passed between Social Ties Influences Danish Voters

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While social pressure is widely believed to influence voters, evidence that informa- tion passed between social ties affects beliefs, policy preferences, and voting behav- ior is limited. We investigate whether information about unemployment shocks dif- fuses through networks of strong and mostly weak social ties and influences voters in Denmark. We link surveys with population-level administrative data that logs un- employment shocks afflicting respondents’ familial, vocational, and educational net- works. Our results show that the share of second-degree social ties—individuals that voters learn about indirectly—that became unemployed within the last year increases a voter’s perception of national unemployment, self-assessed risk of becoming unem- ployed, support for unemployment insurance, and voting for left-wing political parties. Voters’ beliefs about national aggregates respond to all shocks equally, whereas sub- jective perceptions and preferences respond primarily to unemployment shocks afflict- ing second-degree ties in similar vocations. This suggests that information diffusion through social ties principally affects political preferences via egotropic—rather than sociotropic—motives.
TidsskriftJournal of Politics
StatusAccepteret/In press - 1 jan. 2020

ID: 244917237