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Racism, Xenophobia, and Distribution

Racism, Xenophobia, and Distribution

Multi-Issue Politics in Advanced Democracies

John E. Roemer, Woojin Lee, Karine Van der Straeten

ISBN 9780674024953

Publication date: 04/20/2007

From the Republican Party's "Southern Strategy" in the U.S. to the rise of Le Pen's National Front in France, conservative politicians in the last thirty years have capitalized on voters' resentment of ethnic minorities to win votes and undermine government aid to the poor. In this book, the authors construct a theoretical model to calculate the effect of voters' attitudes about race and immigration on political parties' stances on income distribution.

Drawing on empirical data from the U.S., Britain, Denmark, and France, they use their model to show how parties choose their platforms and compete for votes. They find that the Right is able to push fiscal policies that hurt working and middle class citizens by attracting voters who may be liberal on economic issues but who hold conservative views on race or immigration. The authors estimate that if all voters held non-racist views, liberal and conservative parties alike would have proposed levels of redistribution 10 to 20 percent higher than they did. Combining historical analysis and empirical rigor with major theoretical advances, the book yields fascinating insights into how politicians exploit social issues to advance their economic agenda.


  • This book presents an enormously original and important line of thought, partly for its topical importance, but as much for its development and exposition of important new theoretical tools that have a very wide range of application to problems not yet imagined. The extended consideration of the impact of the ‘ethnic dimension’ will permit readers to assess the new methods in a concrete context.

    —John Ferejohn, Stanford University


  • John E. Roemer is Elizabeth S. and A. Varick Stout Professor of Political Science and Economics at Yale University.
  • Woojin Lee is Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
  • Karine Van der Straeten is a fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research, Paris.

Book Details

  • 432 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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