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Title: Political Effects of Environmental Regulation - Evidence from the Clean Air Act
Authors: Herchenroder, Tilmann
Advisors: Currie, Janet
Department: Economics
Class Year: 2021
Abstract: This Senior Thesis explores the effects of regulations under the Clean Air Act on turnout and party vote shares in federal elections between 1992 and 2018. We construct a new data set on the county level, allowing us to exploit variation in the level of air pollution regulation over time to investigate whether increased regulation leads to changes in voting behavior. In particular, we test whether possible political reactions indicate discontent with the level of environmental regulation. Using event-study models as well as difference-in-differences estimators, we find that non-attainment designation has no measurable effect on turnout but is linked to an increase of around 2 percentage points in the Democrats’ vote share. Exploring the underlying mechanism behind this effect, our models suggest that most of the increasing vote shares for Democratic candidates are driven by a loss of vote shares for Independent candidates, and that education levels in a county better explain political reactions than the potential economic vulnerability to environmental regulation does. We interpret these findings as evidence for the increasing importance of environmental policy in voting decisions. In addition, our study provides preliminary support for a model in which environmental policy can affect political outcomes not just by imposing economic costs on voters but also by signalling to voters that environmental regulation is needed.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Economics, 1927-2023

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