Brian F. Schaffner

    Inequality and Representation in the U.S. Congress: Insights from a New Population-Level Data Resource

    With economic inequality at its highest level since the Great Depression, it is critical to understand if our elected officials remain responsive to citizens across the spectrum of wealth, or if they cater primarily to wealthy constituents. While several recent studies have addressed this important subject, existing research suffers from three critical methodological limitations—(1) relatively coarse measures of income and wealth, (2) small numbers of respondents in each constituency, and (3) modest insight on the mechanisms linking income and wealth with influence—that limit their ability to draw inferences about the relationship between inequality and representation. Given these drawbacks, scholars are sharply divided on whether or not rising economic inequality has resulted in more unequal democracy. This study draws on population-level data from a relatively new data source to advance our understanding of the relationship between economic inequality and political representation. Specifically, we use data from Catalist, the pre-eminent political data vendor in the United States today. Catalist maintains an up-to-date file that includes individual-level political, commercial, and demographic data for virtually every American adult. Catalist recently began offering academic access to their database, and this database has already been used by scholars in a variety of applications. In this talk, I will describe how we are using the Catalist database to address the "small N" problems that have plagued the research on inequality and representation and I will present preliminary findings from this research. Thus, the talk will provide both an introduction to a new resource for "big data social science" and as a substantive examination of whether elected officials in the U.S. are are differentially responsive to the wealthiest individuals. (Based on research being conducted with Jesse Rhodes and Ray La Raja)

    Bio: Brian Schaffner is Associate Professor and Chair of the the Department of Political Science and Director of the UMass Poll. He is also a Faculty Associate at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, an Honorary Instructor at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom, and was formerly Program Director for the Political Science program at the National Science Foundation. Schaffner's research focuses public opinion, campaigns and elections, and survey research. He is author of the textbook Politics, Parties, and Elections in America and his research has appeared in over 20 articles in the top journals in the discipline.


    /groups/cssi/search/index.rss?tag=hotlist/groups/cssi/search/?tag=hotWhat’s HotHotListHot!?tag=hot1/groups/cssi/sidebar/HotListterrieTerrie Kellogg2014-09-25 15:46:50+00:002014-09-25 15:46:50updated5terrieTerrie Kellogg2014-09-25 15:44:37+00:002014-09-25 15:44:37updated4Added tag - hotcscfCSCF2014-09-25 15:44:35+00:002014-09-25 15:44:35addTag3cscfCSCF2014-09-25 14:56:43+00:002014-09-25 14:56:43updated2First createdcscfCSCF2014-09-25 14:55:46+00:002014-09-25 14:55:46created1wiki2014-09-25T15:46:50+00:00groups/cssi/wiki/5f1a4False2013 Archives/groups/cssi/wiki/5f1a4/2013_Archives.htmlTerrie Kellogg5 updates2013 Archives This is a collection of videos of the Cross-Departmental Seminar Series events. February 1, 2013 - Brian F. Schaffner "Inequality and Repr...Falseterrie2014-09-25T15:46:50+00:00hot/groups/cssi/search/index.rss?sort=modifiedDate&kind=all&sortDirection=reverse&excludePages=wiki/welcomelist/groups/cssi/search/?sort=modifiedDate&kind=all&sortDirection=reverse&excludePages=wiki/welcomeRecent ChangesRecentChangesListUpdates?sort=modifiedDate&kind=all&sortDirection=reverse&excludePages=wiki/welcome0/groups/cssi/sidebar/RecentChangesListmodifiedDateallRecent ChangesRecentChangesListUpdateswiki/welcomeNo recent changes.reverse5search