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IS CLASS VOTING EMERGENT IN KOREA?

  • Yoonkyung Lee and Jong-sung You

Abstract

The absence of class voting or the existence of “reverse” class voting under rising inequality remains a puzzling question in South Korea. While poor voters seem to support conservative candidates more than the rich do, this is due to a confounding effect of age, because poverty is concentrated among the elderly in Korea. Using the Korean General Social Survey data (KGSS 2004–2014) covering two presidential elections, two general legislative elections, and two nationwide local elections, we find that Koreans, in particular the poor electorate, engage in class voting in both objective and subjective terms. While regional and generational cleavages continue to be the most important determinants of partisan competition, class by income levels as well as subjective identity significantly impact vote choice when age is adequately controlled for.

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