What type of questions would a political scientist ask in order to understand unemployment?

Expert Answers

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In answering this question, we have to be careful not to ask questions that would be more properly asked by economists or by sociologists.  We have to ask questions that are mainly the concern of political scientists.  Let us look at a few possible questions.

  • What government actions tend to increase or reduce unemployment?  This is one that is on the border between political science and economics.  However, political science is concerned with public policy and economic policies are a big part of public policy.
  • Are policies that tend to increase (or reduce) unemployment more likely to be passed when Republicans are in power or when Democrats are?
  • What constituencies and interest groups typically take positions on laws meant to reduce unemployment?  What positions do they take on these proposals?
  • How important is unemployment as a political issue?  Do many people base their vote on unemployment levels?  If so, who do they tend to blame for high unemployment?
  • Do unemployed people vote differently from employed people?  Do they vote more?  Less?  Do they tend to vote for one party or the other?

All of these are questions that a political scientist would ask.  They would help scholars to understand the politics behind laws that affect unemployment and the ways in which unemployment affects political behavior.

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