DOI: 10.1177/00104140231194060 ISSN: 0010-4140

The Development of the Urban-Rural Cleavage in Anglo-American Democracies

Zack Taylor, Jack Lucas, David A. Armstrong, Ryan Bakker
  • Sociology and Political Science

We provide a mixed-methods, comparative analysis of the development of the urban-rural electoral cleavage in Canada, Great Britain, and the United States from the early 20th century to the present. Using aggregate election results, electoral district boundary files, and electoral district population measures, we construct a new comparable dataset of district election results and urbanity for the lower house of the legislature in each country. We use this dataset to measure the importance of the urban-rural divide for election outcomes across countries and time. We find that the cleavage has widened over time in each country, each arrived at its current urban-rural divide via a distinct developmental trajectory, which we interpret with reference to secondary literature. We conclude by discussing the significance of our findings for theories of both the causes and consequences of urban-rural divides and discuss the implications of our work for the comparative study of urban-rural cleavages.

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