Denis Cohen, Thomas Kurer
Risk Dynamics: Economic Trajectories and Political Reactions

9th Annual Conference of the European Political Science Association, Belfast, June 20th to June 22nd, 2019

Extant research in political economy shows that individuals react not only to their current economic situation but also to individual experiences (such as previous unemployment) and prospects (such as income expectations). In advanced capitalist labor markets, individual benchmarks and prospects are also subject to long-term experiences with latent labor market risks. Individual employment biographies are increasingly characterized by highly heterogeneous sequences of risk exposure. Over and beyond personal experiences in the labor market, latent threats to secure employment vary in intensity, timing, and volatility as a function of individual labor market transitions and macro-economic trends. Focusing on these risk dynamics, we analyze voters’ political reactions to different trajectories of employment security. Using high-quality household panels from three West European countries, we construct a time-sensitive measure of sectoral-occupational risk, analyze fluctuations in risk exposure over the course of individual employment biographies, and establish the magnitude and persistence of effects of changes in risk exposure on issue and party preferences. Our findings yield important implications for the wider debates on voting behavior, political contestation, and social mobility.