Recent research on economic voting has moved beyond the traditional reward–punishment hypothesis, according to which the economy is merely considered a valence issue. Instead, patrimonial economic voting research looks at voters as property owners within the economic system. These studies have relied on survey items that measure whether individuals own different kinds of property to test the patrimonial dimension. This study emphasizes the importance of a surprisingly neglected aspect: the value of assets. It uses official register data files from the Swedish Tax Agency on the value of individuals’ assets merged with survey data from the 2006 Swedish National Election Study. The study finds that the relationship between patrimony and voting behavior in Sweden is similar to that found in other countries, but only when it is tested in a similar way as in these studies – that is, only when it is coded as whether voters own different assets. This study brings three important contributions to the debate. First, it offers a new empirically based categorization of the dimensionality of asset ownership and shows that the previous distinction between low- and high-risk assets is insufficient. Secondly, it shows that merely having assets or not, which is what previous studies have measured, is not what primarily matters; the relevant factor is the value of the assets. And thirdly, it demonstrates that only the value of some kinds of assets matters (especially stocks and real estate properties), while other assets (savings in bonds and funds) do not affect voting behavior or political opinions.
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