We study if U.S. Members of Congress who experienced an economic recession during early adulthood vote differently on redistribution-specific bills. We find that politicians who experienced a recession hold more conservative positions on redistribution, even compared to members of the same party. In light of recent empirical evidence showing that voters become more supportive of redistribution following a recession, our findings suggest that macroeconomic shocks might have a polarizing effect: recessions can create an ideological wedge between voters and their future representatives. We hypothesize, and present evidence suggesting that, this wedge might be explained by politicians’ more privileged background.

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