ISSN : 0023-3900
Based on the results of a survey conducted in the aftermath of Korean local elections held in 2018, we measure the extent of ideological polarization across Korean regions and analyze the relationship between income inequality and several measures of ideological polarization in Korean society. We estimate that Korean regions are polarized to the same extent as Korea taken as a whole. Regionally, we find a positive association between the extent of income divergence from the regional mean and ideological polarization, while surprisingly, the extent of aggregate regional income inequality does not seem to be an important factor. Our empirical results suggest that this relationship is mainly driven by an increased demand for redistribution policies on the part of the economically disadvantaged electorate, and the opposition of wealthier voters to the implementation of such policies. Finally, economic security appears to be an important factor mitigating ideological polarization as we find that younger, better educated, and wealthier voters are more likely to view their political views to be located closer to the ideological mean.