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Employment, Wages, and Voter Turnout

  • Kerwin Kofi Charles
  • Melvin Stephens Jr.

Using county-level data across several decades, and various OLS and TSLS models, we find that higher local wages and employment lower turnout in elections for governor, senator, US Congress and state House of Representatives, but have no effect on presidential turnout. We also find that the share of people voting in one election but not in another on the same ballot increases as local labor market conditions improve. We argue that these results are most consistent with information-based models of voting, and use individual level panel data to show that increased employment lowers media usage and political knowledge.

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 111-43

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:5:y:2013:i:4:p:111-43
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.5.4.111
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  1. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
  2. Acemoglu, Daron & Finkelstein, Amy & Notowidigdo, Matthew J., 2009. "Income and Health Spending: Evidence from Oil Price Shocks," CEPR Discussion Papers 7255, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Brody, Richard A. & Sniderman, Paul M., 1977. "From Life Space to Polling Place: The Relevance of Personal Concerns for Voting Behavior," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(03), pages 337-360, July.
  4. Stigler, George J, 1975. "The Effects of Economic Policies on Votes for the Presidency: Some Evidence from Recent Elections: Comment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 801-02, December.
  5. Alan B. Krueger & Andreas Mueller, 2008. "The Lot of the Unemployed: A Time Use Perspective," Working Papers 1062, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  6. Eric Brunner & Stephen L. Ross & Ebonya Washington, 2011. "Economics and Policy Preferences: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposals," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(3), pages 888-906, August.
  7. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  8. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2011. "A Structural Model Of Turnout And Voting In Multiple Elections," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-245, 04.
  9. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
  10. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca Morton & Thomas Palfrey, 2005. "The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000914, UCLA Department of Economics.
  11. Meltzer, Allan H & Vellrath, Marc, 1975. "The Effects of Economic Policies on Votes for the Presidency: Some Evidence from Recent Elections," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 781-98, December.
  12. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. "Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  13. repec:pri:indrel:dsp01w37636771 is not listed on IDEAS
  14. Abdul Ghafar Noury & Tom Coupé, 2004. "Choosing not to choose: on the link between information and abstention," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7756, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  15. Kramer, Gerald H, 1975. "The Effects of Economic Policies on Votes for the Presidency: Some Evidence from Recent Elections: Comment," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 799-800, December.
  16. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2007. "A Structural Model of Turnout and Voting in Multiple Elections, Fourth Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-025, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Aug 2007.
  17. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221.
  18. Kinder, Donald R. & Kiewiet, D. Roderick, 1981. "Sociotropic Politics: The American Case," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 129-161, April.
  19. Antonio Merlo, 2005. "Whither Political Economy? Theories, Facts and Issues," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Dec 2005.
  20. James M. Snyder & David Strömberg, 2010. "Press Coverage and Political Accountability," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(2), pages 355-408, 04.
  21. Wolfers, Justin, 2002. "Are Voters Rational? Evidence from Gubernatorial Elections," Research Papers 1730, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  22. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  23. Dan Black & Kermit Daniel & Seth Sanders, 2002. "The Impact of Economic Conditions on Participation in Disability Programs: Evidence from the Coal Boom and Bust," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(1), pages 27-50, March.
  24. Meltzer, Allan H & Vellrath, Marc, 1975. "The Effects of Economic Policies on Votes for the Presidency: Some Evidence from Recent Elections: Reply," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 803-05, December.
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