Department of Political Science

Reconsidering the Neighborhood Effect: Does Exposure to Residential Unemployment Infuence Voters' Perceptions of the National Economy?

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The state of the national economy often directs voting. But how do citizens form perceptions of a complex and abstract macroeconomy? This study examines whether exposure to unemployment in citizens’ immediate residential surroundings shapes their perceptions of the national economy. Using novel data tapping the official proportion of unemployed people residing within radii between 80 and 2,500 meters of an individual’s place of residence, we confront common methodological and theoretical challenges in existing work. Findings show that citizens do rely on cues from their residential microcontexts when forming perceptions of the national economy. Furthermore, we provide evidence that measures of unemployment in more aggregate contexts are not only poor reflections of what individuals are likely to experience in their immediate neighborhood but also seem to capture a different mechanism related to local media exposure.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Politics
Pages (from-to)719-732
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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