International polarity and America's polarization

Joseph Bafumi, Joseph M. Parent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


There is a growing consensus that the United States is undergoing a period of political polarization, particularly among elites. The causes of this polarization remain under-researched. We argue that shifts in the international distribution of power influence America's polarization. To demonstrate the argument, this article analyzes changes in power and polarization quantitatively and qualitatively from 1945 to 2005. A key finding is that greater relative power on the world stage substantially increases polarization and some of its correlates, like income inequality. The argument also measures the extent of international influence on domestic polarization and makes novel predictions on when and why polarization will fall.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalInternational Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • inequality
  • polarity
  • polarization
  • political integration
  • realism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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