Political social-learning: Short-term memory and cycles of polarisation
Department of Economics and Decision Sciences
Speaker : Gilat Levy (LSE)
This paper investigates the influence of voters' short-term memory on political outcomes by considering politics as a collective learning process. We find that short-term memory may lead to cycles of polarisation and consensus among political parties' platforms. Following periods of party consensus, short-term memory implies that there is little variation in voters' data and therefore limited information about the true state of the world. This in turn allows parties to further their own interests and hence polarise by offering different policies. In contrast, periods of polarisation involve sufficient variation that allows voters to be confident about what the correct policy is, forcing parties to both offer this policy. We analyse the emergence and the nature of such cycles and examine the impact of crises on political competition through the lens of our framework.
Joint work with Ronny Razin, LSE