635 Downey Way, Los Angeles, CA 90089

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Unbundling Polarization

Chad Kendall will discuss his co-authored research on investigating the determinants of political polarization, a phenomenon of increasing relevance in Western democracies. How much of polarization is driven by divergence in the ideologies of politicians? How much is instead the result of changes in the capacity of parties to control their members? Detailed internal information on party discipline in the context of the U.S. Congress – whip count data for 1977-1986 – is used to identify and structurally estimate an economic model of legislative activity where agenda selection, party discipline, and member votes are endogenous. The model delivers estimates of the ideological preferences of politicians, the extent of party control, and allows us to assess the effects of polarization through agenda setting (i.e. which alternatives to a status quo are strategically pursued). We find that parties account for approximately 40 percent of the political polarization in legislative voting over this time period, a critical inflection point in U.S. polarization.

Chad Kendall, assistant professor of Finance and Business Economics, USC Marshall School of Business, is an economist who specializes in financial economics and political economy. He is particularly interested in questions related to the acquisition and use of information in these domains. His work has been published in the American Economic Review and his current projects look at the ability of markets to aggregate information, both theoretically and experimentally. He previously worked as a semiconductor engineer. He earned his Ph.D. at University of British Columbia and MA, BA.Sc. at Simon Fraser University.


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*Political Institutions and Political Economy

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  • Xiaowei Wu

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