- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0057
- LAST REVIEWED: 04 May 2015
- LAST MODIFIED: 30 September 2013
- DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756223-0057
Voting is an act of political behavior that has been explained in a number of ways. A sociological approach may see the voter as driven by class connections. A psychological approach may view voters as susceptible to appeals to authority. A historical approach may count on voters acting pretty much the way people in the district always have. An institutional approach might pay special attention to the political barriers to voting at all. A geographic approach may see the voter appreciating the special eco-systems in which voters find themselves. A communications approach may focus on voter links to media and how they are swayed. A social psychological approach may stress that political groups, especially political parties, are key attractors for voters. Finally, an issues-based approach may stress the idea of a reasoning voter, who weighs the pluses and minuses of candidate platforms before voting. Thus, there are many, and varied, approaches to the study of voting behavior. Of those mentioned, economic voting comes closest to the issues approach, although it differs in that it emphasizes one issue—the economy. What holds economic voting theory together is the notion that voters pick candidates on the basis of their economic influence. In particular, incumbents who have presided over economic prosperity are rewarded at the polls, while those who are deemed responsible for decline are punished.
The literature on economic voting is large. Taken together, the articles and books on the subject number over five hundred. Therefore, reviews of such a vast corpus can be extremely valuable to researchers who want to get a sense of where the field has been and where it is going. The literature has evolved in terms of country coverage and methodology. Early on, almost all the work was on the United States. Soon it crossed the Atlantic, to the United Kingdom and France in particular. Now, there are economic voting studies of virtually all established democracies, and many emerging democracies. With respect to methodology, the initial work was almost all on aggregate time series. By the 1980s, survey research came to the fore. In parallel fashion, data appeared more and more often as a pool of nations, usually from a culturally defined region of the world. The earliest recommended work is Monroe 1979, which reviews mostly US studies linking the economy and elections going back to the 1920s. Paldam 2004 provides a more up-to-date evaluation of vote and popularity functions for several nations, particularly from the perspective of economic theory. In a related work, Lewis-Beck and Paldam 2000 examines the economy and election link revealed in different comparative studies. The authors organize this review around key themes, such as which macroeconomic variables are important, the time dimension of economic voting, and the stability of the popularity function. Norpoth 1996 provides a comparative essay on key theoretical questions and empirical findings in economic voting studies. Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2000 offers an extended treatment of time-series and survey investigations and they point out the need for panel studies. In a latter work, Lewis-Beck and Stegmaier 2007 focuses on economic voting theory, as modeled and estimated in the survey research context. The latest reviews come from Duch 2007 and Hellwig 2010. Both are strongly comparative, examining studies from many nations.
Duch, Raymond M. “Comparative Studies of the Economy and the Vote.” In The Oxford Handbook of Comparative Politics. Edited by Carles Boix and Susan C. Stokes, 805–844. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
The central focus is on the magnitude and (in)stability of the economic vote over time and across countries. The author carefully assesses endogeneity concerns with economic evaluations and considers ways in which the political, economic, and institutional contexts mediate the economy–vote connection.
Hellwig, Timothy. “Elections and the Economy.” In Comparing Democracies 3: Elections and Voting in the 21st Century. 3d ed. Edited by Lawrence LeDuc, Richard G. Niemi, and Pippa Norris, 184–201. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010.
As part of a state of the discipline article, Hellwig analyzes how the political system, age of democracy, and democratic consolidation affect the strength of the economic vote across seventy-seven democracies. Also demonstrates how politicians may use their controls to evade blame for economic conditions.
Lewis-Beck, Michael S., and Martin Paldam. Special Issue: Economics and Elections. Edited by Michael S. Lewis-Black and Martin Paldam. “Economic Voting: An Introduction.” Electoral Studies 19.2–3 (2000): 113–121.
A review of the vote popularity function literature, with an emphasis on the eighteen articles that compose this special issue of Electoral Studies. The authors assess the controversies of prospective/retrospective and sociotropic/egocentric dimensions in light of the new research and address causes of perceived instability in the vote popularity function. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Lewis-Beck, Michael. S., and Mary Stegmaier. “Economic Determinants of Electoral Outcomes.” Annual Review of Political Science 3 (2000): 183–219.
This widely cited review article provides an extensive overview of economic voting in presidential and national legislative elections in the most studied countries including the United States, France, Britain and Denmark, with other country and cross-national studies covered to provide a full picture of the subfield. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Lewis-Beck, Michael. S., and Mary Stegmaier. “Economic Models of Voting.” In The Oxford Handbook of Political Behavior. Edited by Russell Dalton and Hans-Dieter Klingemann, 518–537. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.
A broad ranging overview of theory and individual-level survey research on economic voting. Primarily covers presidential and parliamentary elections in the United States, Britain, France, as well as cross-national comparative studies. Available online by subscription.
Monroe, Kristen R. “Econometric Analyses of Electoral Behavior: A Critical Review.” Political Behavior 1.2 (1979): 137–173.
The author offers a detailed review of the earliest published research, from the 1920s–1960s, on the relationship between economic conditions and election results. She then reviews and critiques the burst of empirical studies on the topic in the 1970s offering topics that future research should address. Available online for purchase or by subscription.
Norpoth, Helmut. “The Economy.” In Comparing Democracies: Elections and Voting in Global Perspective. Edited by Laurence LeDuc, Richard G. Niemi, and Pippa Norris, 299–318. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 1996.
A highly accessible overview of aggregate- and individual-level controversies and findings in the study of economic voting across democracies.
Paldam, Martin. “Vote and Popularity Functions.” In The Encyclopedia of Public Choice. Edited by Charles K. Rowley and Friedrich Schneider, 49–59. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 2004.
Summarizes the main findings in the vote–popularity literature across countries and considers them in light of the rational expectations theory. Paldam argues that rational expectations assumptions about voters do not match the empirical evidence in the literature.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
Purchase an Ebook Version of This Article
Ebooks of the Oxford Bibliographies Online subject articles are available in North America via a number of retailers including Amazon, vitalsource, and more. Simply search on their sites for Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guides and your desired subject article.
If you would like to purchase an eBook article and live outside North America please email firstname.lastname@example.org to express your interest.
- Advanced Democracies, Electoral System Reform in
- Advanced Democracies, Public Opinion and Public Policy in
- Advertising and Election Campaigns in the United States
- Africa, Comparative Politics of
- American Indian Politics
- Arab-Israel Conflict, The
- Arendt, Hannah
- Aristotle's Political Thought
- Arms Race Modeling
- Australia and New Zealand, Comparative Politics of
- Authoritarianism in Russia
- Bicameralism in Stable Democracies
- Big Data in Political Science Research
- Biopolitics and State Regulation of Human Life
- Brazilian Political Development
- Business-State Relations in Europe
- Campaign Finance in the Era of Super-PACS
- Canadian Foreign Policy
- Candidate Emergence and Recruitment
- Channels of Electoral Representation in Advanced Industria...
- China's One-Child Policy
- China-Taiwan Relations
- Chinese Communist Party
- Chinese Economic Policy
- Chinese Nationalism
- Civil Society in South Asia
- Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Civil-Military Relations in Asia
- Civil-Military Relations in Latin America
- Class in American Politics
- Comparative Capitalism Theory
- Comparative Industrial Relations in Europe
- Comparative Politics of Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bis...
- Comparative Politics of Chile and Uruguay
- Comparative Politics of Federalism
- Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa
- Congress, Defense, and Foreign Policy
- Congressional Reassertion of Authority
- Conservative Litigation Strategies and Groups in US Judici...
- Corruption in China
- Cosmopolitan Political Thought
- Crisis of European Integration in Historical Perspective, ...
- Critical Theory and the Frankfurt School
- Cuban Political Development
- Cycles of Protest
- Democracy and Authoritarianism in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Democracy and Dictatorship in Central Asia
- Democracy in Latin America
- Democratic Citizenship
- Democratic Consolidation
- Democratic Peace Theory
- Democratic Theory
- Democratization in Africa
- Democratization in Central America
- Democratization in Mexico
- Development of Survey Research
- Direct Democracy in the United States
- East Africa, Politics of
- Economic Voting
- Election Forecasting
- Election Laws in Democracies
- Electoral and Party System Development in Sub-Saharan Afri...
- Electoral Change in Latin America
- Emotion and Racial Attitudes in Contemporary American Poli...
- Environmental Governance
- Environmental Politics among Advanced Industrial Democraci...
- Ethnic Diasporas and US Foreign Policy
- Ethnic Politics
- Eurasia, Comparative Politics of
- European Social Democracy
- European Union, Politics of the
- Failed and Weak States in Theory and Practice
- Far-Right Parties in Europe
- Federalism in the United States
- Field Experiments
- Filibuster, The
- Gender and Electoral Politics in the United States
- Gender and International Relations
- Gender, Behavior, and Representation
- Global Inequality
- Globalization and the Welfare State
- Globalization, Health Crises, and Health Care
- Governance in Africa
- Governmental Responses to Political Corruption
- Gridlock and Divided Government in the U.S.
- Historiography of Twentieth-Century American Conservatism,...
- Hobbes’s Political Thought
- Hume’s Political Thought
- Hybrid Regimes
- Identity and Political Behavior
- Ideological Reasoning in Politics
- Immigrant Incorporation in Canada
- Immigrant Incorporation in Western Europe
- Immigration and International Relations
- Immigration Politics and Policy in the United States
- Impact of Campaign Contributions on Congressional Behavior...
- Implicit Attitudes in Public Opinion
- Income Dynamics and Politics in North America and Europe
- Income Inequality and Advanced Democracies
- Income Inequality in the United States, The Politics of
- Indian Democracy
- Indigenous Rights and Governance in Canada, Australia, and...
- Informal Practices of Accountability in Urban Africa
- Institutional Change in Advanced Democracies
- Intellectual Property in International Relations
- Interest Groups and Inequality in the United States
- Interest Groups in American Politics
- International Conflict Management
- International Criminal Justice
- International Law
- International NGOs
- International Political Economy of Illegal Drugs
- Internet and Politics, The
- Iran, Political Development of
- Israeli Politics
- Judicial Supremacy and National Judicial Review
- Judiciaries and Politics in East Asia
- Kant's Political Thought
- Labor Politics in East Asia
- Land Reform in Latin America
- Latin America, Democratic Transitions in
- Latin America, Environmental Policy and Politics in
- Latin America, Guerrilla Insurgencies in
- Latin America, Social Movements in
- Legal Mobilization
- LGBT Politics in the United States
- Liberal Pluralism
- Local Governments in the United States
- Machiavelli’s Political Thought
- Marx's Political Thought
- Mass Incarceration and US Politics
- Mechanisms of Representation
- Media Effects in Politics
- Media Politics in South Asia
- Minority Political Engagement and Representation in the Un...
- Modern Dynastic Rule
- Modern Elections and Voting Behavior in Europe
- National Interbranch Politics in the United States
- NATO, Politics of
- Negative Campaigning
- Neoclassical Realism
- New Institutionalism Revisited, The
- North America, Comparative Politics of
- Oil, Politics of
- Origins and Impact of Proportional Representation, The
- Outcomes of Social Movements and Protest Activities
- Partisan and Nonpartisan Theories of Organization in the U...
- Partisan Polarization in the US Congress
- Partisan Polarization in the US Electorate
- Party Networks
- Peace Operations
- Personality and Politics
- Plato's Political Thought
- Policy Responsiveness to Public Opinion
- Political Economy of Financial Regulation in Advanced Ind...
- Political Economy of India
- Political Economy of Taxation, The
- Political Geography in American Politics
- Political Obligation
- Political Parties and Electoral Politics of Japan
- Political Thought, Hegel's
- Political Thought of the American Founders, The
- Politics and Policy in Contemporary Argentina
- Politics of Anti-Americanism
- Politics of Class Formation
- Politics of Disaster Prevention and Management
- Politics of Financial Crises
- Politics of Foreign Direct Investment in South Asia
- Politics of Higher Education in the U.S.
- Politics of Internal Conquest in the United States and Can...
- Politics of Japan
- Politics of Natural Disasters, The
- Politics of North Korea
- Politics of Science and Technology
- Politics of South Africa
- Politics of Southern Africa
- Postcolonialism and International Relations
- Post-Communist Democratization
- Preferential Trade Agreements, Politics of
- Presidential Persuasion and Public Opinion
- Presidential Primaries and Caucuses
- Private Governance
- Public Opinion in Advanced Industrial Democracies
- Public Opinion in New Democracies and Developing Nations
- Public Presidency, US Elections, and the Permanent Campaig...
- Qualitative Methods, The Renewal of
- Race in American Political Thought
- Racial and Ethnic Descriptive Representation in the United...
- Regime Transitions and Variation in Post-Communist Europe
- Regional Integration in Latin America
- Regional Security
- Regulating Food Production
- Religion in American Political Thought
- Religion in Contemporary Political Thought
- Religion, Politics, and Civic Engagement in the United Sta...
- Rousseau's Political Thought
- Rule of Law
- Russia and the West
- Science and Democracy
- Social Policy and Immigrant Integration
- South Korea, Politics of
- Spectacle, The
- State Building in Sub-Saharan Africa
- State Formation
- State, The Nature of the
- Supreme Court of the United States, The
- Systemic Theories of International Politics
- Taiwan, Politics of
- Tea Party, The
- The New Right in American Political Thought
- Transitional Justice
- Transnational Private Regulation
- Turkey, Political Development of
- US Military Bases Abroad
- US Presidency, The
- Voter Turnout
- Welfare State Development
- Welfare State Development in Latin America
- Welfare State Development in Western Europe
- West Africa, Politics of
- Worker Politics in China
- Youth and Generational Differences in US Politics