Why Parties Displace Their Voters: Gentrification, Coalitional Change, and the Demise of Public Housing

Winston Chou, Rafaela Dancygier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Across advanced economies, affordable housing shortages are pushing low-income voters out of cities. Left governments frequently exacerbate these shortages by eliminating public housing. Why does the Left pursue policies that displace its voters? We argue that the Left's long-term rebalancing towards the middle class and away from an increasingly stigmatized underclass has significantly attenuated the trade-offs inherent in reducing affordable housing. Focusing on the UK, we demonstrate that by alienating low-income voters politically and reshuffling them across districts, housing crises have significant costs for Labour. Yet, drawing on interviews, we show that displacement is nonetheless compatible with electoral interests: the displaced make room for richer voters whom politicians believe will also support Labour. A quantitative analysis of Greater London's 32 local authorities and 624 wards further documents trends in line with coalitional rebalancing. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that electoral foundations are key to understanding housing crises and gentrification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-449
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Volume115
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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