Unbundling Polarization

by Casey Fischl

Chad Kendall discussed his paper, Unbundling Polarization, co-authored by Nathan Canen and Francesco Trebbi. His research investigates political polarization, an issue that is at an all-time high for Western democracies. Kendall seeks to identify and quantify the determinants of political polarization through a structural approach using two main sources: party discipline and members’ ideological positions. To execute the model, Kendall and his co-authors used internal data on party discipline in Congress to estimate the endogenous effect of agenda selection, party discipline, and member votes on legislative activity. Their model provides estimates of politicians ideological preferences, the extent of party control, and identify the alternatives to the status quo that are prioritized through agenda setting. Kendall’s research revealed that 40 percent of political polarization from 1977-1986 was caused by party activity, rather than a member’s individual position.

Kendall is an Assistant Professor of Finance and Business Economics at USC’s Marshall School of Business. He is a trained economist specializing in financial economics and political economy. Aside from his research on political polarization, Kendall conducts research on the ability of markets to aggregate information. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia.