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19.10.2018 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 4/2019

Political Behavior 4/2019

Foreclosure’s Fallout: Economic Adversity and Voter Turnout

Zeitschrift:
Political Behavior > Ausgabe 4/2019
Autoren:
Paru Shah, Amber Wichowsky
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11109-018-9509-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The Great Recession that accompanied the financial crisis didn’t bring back breadlines or industrial strikes. This time, the desperation was quiet and lonely: a pile of mail at the doorstep of a deserted house in a brand-new subdivision; a foreclosure judge presiding over a stack of files; a middle-aged man playing video games all day with the shades drawn; a retired woman trying to get a human being on the phone at the bank.
—George Packer, The New Yorker (2018).

Abstract

With the foreclosure crisis continuing to impact individuals and communities across the country, understanding the extent of its effect on political life is tantamount. In this paper, we ask how political behaviors are influenced by the economic adversities created by this crisis: loss of home, loss of resources, and perhaps loss of political efficacy. Previous research on economic adversity focuses almost exclusively on unemployment. Here we explore the demobilizing effects of foreclosures at the individual level, community levels, and the intersection of individuals nested in communities. With a unique dataset that matches voter file data to a database on individual foreclosures, we show that the foreclosure crisis was associated with a decline in voter turnout, both individually and for those in neighborhoods hit harder by the foreclosure crisis. We find that homeowners facing the loss of their homes were less likely to go to the polls. Consistent with previous research, we also show that turnout was suppressed in neighborhoods with higher rates of foreclosure. Taken together, our results suggest that political elites were less likely to hear from constituents most directly impacted by the foreclosure crisis.

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