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Digging into the Pocketbook: Evidence on Economic Voting from Income Registry Data Matched to a Voter Survey


To paint a fuller picture of economic voters, we combine personal income records with a representative election survey. We examine three central topics in the economic voting literature: pocketbook versus sociotropic voting, the effects of partisanship on economic evaluations, and voter myopia. First, we show that voters who appear in survey data to be voting based on the national economy are, in fact, voting equally on the basis of their personal financial conditions. Second, there is strong evidence of both partisan bias and economic information in economic evaluations, but personal economic data is required to separate the two. Third, although in experiments and aggregate historical data recent economic conditions appear to drive vote choice, we find no evidence of myopia when we examine actual personal economic data.

Corresponding author
Andrew J. Healy is Professor, Department of Economics, Loyola Marymount University (
Mikael Persson is Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg (
Erik Snowberg is Canadian Excellence Research Chair in Data-Intensive Methods in Economics at the Vancouver School of Economics, University of British Columbia; Professor of Economics and Political Science, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research, California Institute of Technology, University of British Columbia (
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We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Statistics Sweden. Snowberg acknowledges the support of NSF grants SES-1156154 and SMA-1329195. Persson acknowledges support from the Wenner-Gren Foundations, the Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. We thank Steve Ansolabehere, Love Christensen, Bob Erikson, Mikael Gilljam, Rod Kiewiet, Kalle Lindgren, Peter Loewen, Sven Oskarsson, and Chris Wlezien for helpful comments, as well as conference participants at APSA 2014 in Washington, DC, and seminar participants at the Department of Economics, Loyola Marymount University and at the Department of Political Science, University of Gothenburg. The register data used in this article is confidential and cannot be disclosed by the authors. However, interested scholars can apply for access to our dataset through Statistics Sweden. Instructions for doing so, and code to reproduce our results, may be found on Dataverse at

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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