Study: American Housing Preferences Mimic American Politics

Emily Badger pulls particularly salient information from last week's Pew Research Center's report on political attitudes: liberals prefer the city while conservatives prefer small towns and rural areas.
June 16, 2014, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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According to analysis by Emily Badger of a new study by the Pew Research Center that found evidence of widening political polarization in the United States, the study also found evidence that Americans tend to make lifestyle choices, especially about where to live, along political lines. "Seventy-seven percent of 'consistently liberal' adults went with what sounded like dthe [sic] urban milieu: the dense neighborhood, the compact home, the 'walkability.' Fully seventy-five percent of 'consistently conservative' adults went with the polar opposite," writes Badger.

Unclear, however, is that the data means about why people make these choices. "This latest Pew data, though, renews some curious questions about what's really going on here," says Badger. Some examples of the questions raised by the findings:

"Does ideology inform our living choices, or is it the other way around? Do liberals move to cities because cities happen to have the things that liberals like: dense amenities, cultural institutions, greater diversity?"

"Or do people who happen to live in cities because they value those things come to lean liberal thanks to other concerns inherent in that way of living?"

"Likewise, do conservatives settle in the exurbs and beyond because they want room to stretch out and a fenced-in yard? Or does having those things make you value privacy and individualism -- and the ideology that defends them?"

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Published on Thursday, June 12, 2014 in The Washington Post - Wonkblog
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