This paper theoretically studies the consequences of partisanship with an application to environmental policy. We model an election between a right-wing and a left-wing candidate who strategically propose environmental policies to gain the support of an electorate divided based on their climate change beliefs and productive assets. While environmental regulations imply a trade-off between a more sustainable environment and higher incomes for all voters, climate change believers have a higher belief in human activity-induced climate change, which translates into greater expected environmental benefits from policy, and high-asset voters care relatively more about mitigating economic costs. Voters view the left-wing candidate as more effective in addressing environmental challenges, whereas her right-wing opponent is the better candidate to deliver relief from the economic burden of regulations. In equilibrium, there exists policy divergence and the right-wing candidate always proposes the more pro-industry policy. We find that higher asset inequality moves equilibrium policies in a pro-industry direction as long as high-asset voters are ideologically more homogeneous than low-asset ones. Equilibrium policies become further polarized with greater partisanship as those voters with the same climate change belief hold similar ideologies.
- Downsian competition
- Environmental regulations
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Economics and Econometrics
- Political Science and International Relations