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When Do Citizens Respond Politically to the Local Economy? Evidence from Registry Data on Local Housing Markets

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Recent studies of economic voting have focused on the role of the local economy, but with inconclusive results. We argue that while local economic conditions affect incumbent support on average, the importance of the local economy varies by citizens’ interactions with it. More recent and frequent encounters with aspects of the local economy make those aspects more salient and, in turn, feature more prominently in evaluations of the incumbent government. We label this process “context priming.” We provide evidence for these propositions by studying local housing markets. Linking granularly detailed data on housing prices from Danish public registries to both precinct-level election returns and an individual-level panel survey, we find that when individuals interact with the housing market, their support for the incumbent government is more responsive to changes in local housing prices. The study thus provides a framework for understanding when citizens respond politically to the local economy.


Corresponding author

*Martin Vinæs Larsen, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University,
Frederik Hjorth, Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen,
Peter Thisted Dinesen, Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen,
**Kim Mannemar Sønderskov, Professor at the Department of Political Science, Aarhus University,


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We would like to thank Kraks Fond—Institute for Urban Economic Research, the Carlsberg foundation, and the Danish Council for Independent Research (Social Sciences) for financial support. We also want to acknowledge Amalie Sofie Jensen and Statistics Denmark for help in acquiring and understanding the data on housing prices. Furthermore, we thank the APSR editors and reviewers, Ben Ansell, Martin Bisgaard, Gabriel Lenz, Mikael Persson, and seminar participants at the 2016 APSA Annual Meeting, the 2017 MPSA Annual Meeting, Kraks Fond—Institute for Urban Economic Research Seminar 2017, and Université Laval 2018 for helpful comments. All remaining errors are our own. Replication files are available at the American Political Science Review Dataverse:



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