Publications

"How Labor Unions Increase Political Knowledge: Evidence from the United States"

 

- Published online at Political Behavior

Abstract: Labor unions have long been important political actors, mobilizing voters, shaping their members' attitudes, and influencing representation and economic inequality. However, little is known regarding unions' influence on political knowledge. In this paper, I argue that unions increase their members' political knowledge, through two mechanisms: direct information provision and workplace discussion of politics. I use data from recent national election surveys, and a matching technique, finding that
union members, particularly those with less formal education{people who face higher
costs in seeking out political information, are significantly more politically knowledge-
able than their non-union counterparts, and better informed about where political
parties and candidates stand on the issues. I conclude by discussing unions' capacity
to reduce knowledge gaps and foster a more politically informed electorate.

"Labor Unions and Support for Redistribution in an Era of Inequality" 

 

- Published online at Social Science Quarterly

Abstract: The United States has become increasingly unequal over the past several decades. Despite this, public opinion toward redistribution has remained largely unchanged. This is puzzling, given Americans' professed concern regarding, and knowledge of, rising inequality. I argue that the decline of labor unions, an organization that promotes anti-inequality attitudes among its members, can help us to understand this. I use panel data from the U.S. States from 1978-2012 to examine how state-level unionization levels condition the relationship between income inequality and support for redistributive spending. I find that in contexts where labor unions are stronger, higher levels of income inequality prompt greater support for welfare spending. These findings illustrate an additional mechanism through which labor unions can check income inequality, and helps us to understand why the American public has not turned in favor of redistribution during an era of rising economic inequality.

"Trust in Government and the American Public's Responsiveness to Rising Income Inequality"

 

- Published online at Political Research Quarterly

Abstract: The United States has become increasingly unequal. Income inequality has risen dramatically since the 1970s, yet public opinion toward redistribution has remained largely unchanged. This is puzzling, given Americans’ professed concern regarding, and knowledge of, rising inequality. I argue that trust in government can help to reconcile this. I combine data on state-level income inequality with survey data from the Cumulative American National Election Studies (CANES) from 1984 to 2016. I find that trust in government conditions the relationship between inequality and redistribution, with higher inequality prompting demand for government redistribution, but only among politically trustful individuals. This holds among conservatives and non-conservatives and among the affluent and non-affluent. These findings underscore the relevance of political trust in shaping attitudes toward inequality and economic redistribution and contribute to our understanding of why American public opinion has not turned in favor of redistribution during an era of rising income inequality.

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