Scholar: Ryan Halen
Major: Political Science
Faculty Mentors: Dr. Stacy Gordon
Research Topic: Linking Economic and Electoral Inequality: Redistribution Policy and Its Effect on Voter Turnout
Abstract: On the national level, economic inequality has been consistently related with electoral inequality. Electoral inequality, the difference in election turnout amongst different groups in society, has been steadily on the rise in most democratic nations. This decline in voter turnout, however, has tended to be class based: effecting lower wage earners to a much higher degree than higher wage earners. Such a trend in voter turnout has negative implications on representation and policy outcomes for the least advantaged citizens in a democracy. The complicated nature of voter turnout, however, has made a parsimonious explanation of the relationship between voter turnout and income inequality difficult to establish. In this paper, I seek to explore if redistributive policy can serve as a mediating link between voter turnout and income inequality. Focusing on redistributive policy as a possible explanation brings governmental institutions back into the discussion while providing a mechanism which turns policy preferences into policy outcomes. I test for the relationship between redistributive policy and economic and electoral inequality by examining the turnout levels for three prior electoral cycles and the GINI Index coefficients, a measurement of the income levels of the highest earning families of a country to the lowest earning families, over the same time period in 22 advanced industrial democracies and comparing them to levels of social transfer payments made after the elections in those countries.
Earned Baccalaureate Degree: spring 2012
Doctoral Program Update: Enrolled in PhD Program, Political Science, University of Minnesota