IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Electoral rules and voter turnout


  • Barone, Guglielmo
  • de Blasio, Guido


The paper investigates the effect of electoral rules on voter turnout. It focuses on Italian municipalities, where a single ballot system applies to municipalities with less than 15,000 inhabitants, while a dual ballot system applies above that threshold. By exploiting this discontinuity, the paper finds that the dual ballot increases participation at the local polls by about 1 percentage point. The increase in voter turnout is associated with broader political representation, higher quality politicians, and greater fiscal discipline. Finally, we document that the higher political participation triggered by local electoral rules extends to nationwide voting contexts.

Suggested Citation

  • Barone, Guglielmo & de Blasio, Guido, 2013. "Electoral rules and voter turnout," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 25-35.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:36:y:2013:i:c:p:25-35 DOI: 10.1016/j.irle.2013.04.001

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Patricia Funk, 2010. "Social Incentives and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the Swiss Mail Ballot System," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1077-1103, September.
    2. Sandra E. Black, 1999. "Do Better Schools Matter? Parental Valuation of Elementary Education," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 577-599.
    3. Guillermo Owen & Bernard Grofman, 1984. "To vote or not to vote: The paradox of nonvoting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 311-325, January.
    4. Raffaela Giordano & Pietro Tommasino, 2013. "Public-Sector Efficiency and Political Culture," FinanzArchiv: Public Finance Analysis, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 69(3), pages 289-316, September.
    5. Marcos Chamon & João Manoel Pinho de Mello & Sergio Firpo, 2008. "Electoral rules, political competition and fiscal spending : regression discontinuity evidence from Brazilian municipalities," Textos para discussão 559, Department of Economics PUC-Rio (Brazil).
    6. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
    7. Amrita Dhillon & Susana Peralta, 2002. "Economic Theories Of Voter Turnout," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages 332-352, June.
    8. Lars-Erik Borge & Torberg Falch & Per Tovmo, 2008. "Public sector efficiency: the roles of political and budgetary institutions, fiscal capacity, and democratic participation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 136(3), pages 475-495, September.
    9. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    10. Mueller, Dennis C. & Stratmann, Thomas, 2003. "The economic effects of democratic participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2129-2155, September.
    11. Stephen Wright & William Riker, 1989. "Plurality and runoff systems and numbers of candidates," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 60(2), pages 155-175, February.
    12. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    13. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2011. "Competing on Good Politicians," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 105(01), pages 79-99, February.
    14. Martin J. Osborne & Al Slivinski, 1996. "A Model of Political Competition with Citizen-Candidates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 111(1), pages 65-96.
    15. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, 2005. "A Drawback Of Electoral Competition," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 3(6), pages 1318-1348, December.
    16. Gian Maria Milesi-Ferretti & Roberto Perotti & Massimo Rostagno, 2002. "Electoral Systems and Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 609-657.
    17. Guglielmo Barone & Sauro Mocetti, 2011. "Tax morale and public spending inefficiency," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 18(6), pages 724-749, December.
    18. Hastings, Justine S. & Kane, Thomas J. & Staiger, Douglas O. & Weinstein, Jeffrey M., 2007. "The effect of randomized school admissions on voter participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(5-6), pages 915-937, June.
    19. Maria Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2011. "Political competition and politician quality: evidence from Italian municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 547-559, September.
    20. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
    21. repec:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:03:p:653-663_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
    23. Glaeser, Edward L., 2008. "Cities, Agglomeration, and Spatial Equilibrium," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199290444, June.
    24. Seabright, Paul, 1996. "Accountability and decentralisation in government: An incomplete contracts model," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 40(1), pages 61-89, January.
    25. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
    26. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, March.
    27. Lee, David S., 2008. "Randomized experiments from non-random selection in U.S. House elections," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 675-697, February.
    28. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575.
    29. Fujiwara, Thomas, 2011. "A Regression Discontinuity Test of Strategic Voting and Duverger's Law," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 6(3–4), pages 197-233, November.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Alberto Batinti & Andrea Filippetti & Luca Andriani, 2017. "Why Does Social Capital Increase Government Performance? The Role of Local Elections across Italian Municipalities," Management Working Papers 13, Birkbeck Department of Management, revised Apr 2017.
    2. repec:bla:jregsc:v:57:y:2017:i:2:p:319-341 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Emanuele Bracco & Alberto Brugnoli, 2012. "Runoff vs. plurality," Working Papers 23767067, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
    4. Andrew C. Eggers & Ronny Freier & Veronica Grembi & Tommaso Nannicini, 2015. "Regression Discontinuity Designs Based on Population Thresholds: Pitfalls and Solutions," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1503, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Giovanna d'Adda & Guido Blasio, 2017. "Historical Legacy And Policy Effectiveness: The Long-Term Influence Of Preunification Borders In Italy," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(2), pages 319-341, March.
    6. Antonio Accetturo, 2014. "Political selection in the skilled city," Temi di discussione (Economic working papers) 956, Bank of Italy, Economic Research and International Relations Area.
    7. De Benedetto, Marco Alberto & De Paola, Maria, 2014. "Candidates' Quality and Electoral Participation: Evidence from Italian Municipal Elections," IZA Discussion Papers 8102, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. Paolo Chiades & Luciano Greco & Vanni Menegotto & Luigi Moretti & Paola Valbonesi, 2015. "Fiscal Consolidation and Expenditure Arrears: Evidence from Local Governments’ Investments," "Marco Fanno" Working Papers 0197, Dipartimento di Scienze Economiche "Marco Fanno".
    9. Tommaso Giommoni, 2017. "Exposition to Corruption and Political Participation: Evidence from Italian Municipalities," CESifo Working Paper Series 6645, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item


    Voter turnout; Electoral systems; Regression discontinuity design;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:irlaec:v:36:y:2013:i:c:p:25-35. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.