Date of Award
Where to live and when to move are two fundamental questions people have to answer in their lives. People weigh their preferences for what jurisdictions offer and choose the best mix of wages, amenities, and, importantly, public policies and politics. However, employment constraints and mobility costs mean that people have to make concessions about where to live. Importantly, people may live in a place orthogonal to their personal politics in order to have a good job and high-quality amenities. Using a novel data set from the COVID-19 pandemic, this paper answers the question of what people do when they no longer have to entertain the costs of moving. Using a simple theoretical model, this paper arrives at the conclusion that when origins and destinations differ by amenities, people will sort along political lines under a workfrom- home regime. The theory also predicts that when origins and destinations differ by productivity, there will not be political sorting under work-from-home. Work-fromhome allowed people to retain their jobs and move cheaply, and the pandemic was a time of heightened political salience. These factors, combined with the nature of a pandemic, allowed for a natural experiment framework. This, in turn, gives rise to novel empirical results, the most important of which, is that there has been an increase in political sorting in the US, and has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic started. Further results show that in the case of an amenity differential, the theory is corroborated by the data, and there are no significant results for a productivity differential. *
Taylor, Jack, "Pandemic Politics: Tiebout Sorting and Work-From-Home" (2023). Honors College Theses. 11.