More competition between political parties leads to prosperity for Americans


ROCHESTER, NY – The battle between Republicans and Democrats is usually responsible for all that is wrong in American society today. While politics are more polarizing than ever, a new study finds that when the two major parties compete closely, the American people benefit the most.

University of Rochester researchers Gerald Gamm and UC San Diego’s Thad Kousser say the tight competition between Democrats and Republicans for political control often ends up adopting measures that improve people’s quality of life. living there. Their study looked at the history of the two-party system from 1880 to 2010 and found two main trends.

The first is that there appears to be a link between competition between parties and increased spending on human capital and infrastructure. The second is that these expenses often lead to improvements in the welfare of the public. These ties include political balance in Congress, state legislatures, urban politics, and modern party politics.

“Competition between parties is not only healthy for a political system, but for the life prospects of the people,” Gamm said in an academic statement.

Living in a “red state” or “blue state” is bad for your health

For staunch Democrats, Liberals, Republicans and Conservatives, living in a deep “blue” or “red” state may seem better for their well-being – and lead to fewer arguments too! However, the study finds that states where one party typically has overwhelming control (like New York, California, or Texas) are actually doing a worse job of providing a good life for their residents.

Researchers say residents of dark blue or red states have lower life expectancies, lower education levels, and lower incomes than those in “swing states.” Strongly Democratic and Republican states have also experienced higher infant mortality rates over the years.

“We are finding that states that spend more – and spend more because of party competition – are becoming places where children are more likely to survive early childhood, where they learn to read and where they graduate. high school, where adults live longer and, unless in the pre-New Deal era, where people earn higher incomes, ”says Kousser.

One-party rule leads to bad policies

So what is causing this decline in welfare in some states? The study finds that when a party wields too much power and holds it for too long, politicians end up pushing through more ‘pig barrel’ schemes that only benefit a small number of residents of a country. region.

Conversely, when the two parties regularly fight for control, those in power find ways to improve their party’s reputation by pursuing statewide programs that help many people. The researchers add that Democrats and Republicans have an opportunity to show the public how they differ from their political opponents.

“Inter-party competition creates links between supporters across the state and between the executive and legislative branches, causing both sides to work for programs that benefit a wide range of voters,” the team said. .

Is modern political polarization changing that?

“In the contemporary environment, we recognize that the historical importance of inter-party competition can be toned down, denied or even reversed,” the team writes.

Gamm notes that in the past voters and elites have likely agreed on many political policies. Today, however, the researcher claims that politics is becoming a “zero-sum game”, with the two sides completely opposed to the other’s philosophy. With that in mind, the team says it’s unclear whether this trend will continue in the post-2010 political era.

“What we are showing here, drawing on a full century of data on competition and party spending, as well as data on health, literacy and prosperity up to 2010, is of central importance. competition between the two parties for the rise of the American state and the development of the American people ”, conclude the authors of the study.

The study is published in the journal American Journal of Political Science.


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