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Using California ballot proposition returns and exogenous shifts to labor demand, the authors provide the first large-scale causal evidence of the impact of economic conditions on policy preferences. Consistent with economic theory, they find that positive economic shocks decrease support for redistributive policies. More notably, they find evidence of a need for cognitive consistency in voting behavior as economic shocks have a smaller significant impact on voting on non-economic ballot issues. While they also demonstrate that positive shocks decrease turnout, they present evidence that the results reflect changes to the electorate's preferences and not simply to its composition.
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