IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/pubeco/v145y2017icp103-115.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Compulsory voting, turnout, and government spending: Evidence from Austria

Author

Listed:
  • Hoffman, Mitchell
  • León, Gianmarco
  • Lombardi, María

Abstract

We study a unique quasi-experiment in Austria, where compulsory voting laws are changed across Austria's nine states at different times. Analyzing state and national elections from 1949 to 2010, we show that compulsory voting laws with weakly enforced fines increase turnout by roughly 10 percentage points. However, we find no evidence that this change in turnout affected government spending patterns (in levels or composition) or electoral outcomes. Individual-level data on turnout and political preferences suggest that these results occur because the impacts of compulsory voting on turnout are larger among those who are non-partisan, who have low interest in politics, and who are uninformed.

Suggested Citation

  • Hoffman, Mitchell & León, Gianmarco & Lombardi, María, 2017. "Compulsory voting, turnout, and government spending: Evidence from Austria," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 103-115.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:145:y:2017:i:c:p:103-115
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.10.002
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0047272716301487
    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

    as
    1. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2011. "Media and Political Persuasion: Evidence from Russia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3253-3285, December.
    2. Grant Miller, 2008. "Women's Suffrage, Political Responsiveness, and Child Survival in American History," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(3), pages 1287-1327.
    3. A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach & Douglas L. Miller, 2008. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(3), pages 414-427, August.
    4. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2011. "The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Exit on Electoral Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2980-3018, December.
    5. Roland Hodler & Simon Luechinger & Alois Stutzer, 2015. "The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 141-171, February.
    6. Henry S. Farber, 2009. "Increasing Voter Turnout: Is Democracy Day the Answer?," Working Papers 1116, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    7. Gavazza, Alessandro & Nardotto, Mattia & Valletti, Tommaso, 2015. "Internet and Politics: Evidence from U.K. Local Elections and Local Government Policies," CEPR Discussion Papers 10991, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    8. repec:wly:amposc:v:49:y:2005:i:1:p:103-118 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Washington, Ebonya, 2006. "How Black Candidates Affect Voter Turnout," Working Papers 16, Yale University, Department of Economics.
    10. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1997. "An Economic Model of Representative Democracy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(1), pages 85-114.
    11. Henry S. Farber, 2009. "Increasing Voter Turnout: Is Democracy Day the Answer?," Working Papers 1135, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    12. Knack, Steve, 1994. "Does Rain Help the Republicans? Theory and Evidence on Turnout and the Vote," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 79(1-2), pages 187-209, April.
    13. repec:cup:apsrev:v:80:y:1986:i:01:p:17-43_18 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2011. "Overcoming Ideological Bias in Elections," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(2), pages 183-211.
    15. Björn Tyrefors Hinnerich & Per Pettersson‐Lidbom, 2014. "Democracy, Redistribution, and Political Participation: Evidence From Sweden 1919–1938," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82(3), pages 961-993, May.
    16. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859.
    17. Alberto Chong & Mauricio Olivera, 2008. "Does Compulsory Voting Help Equalize Incomes?," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 20(3), pages 391-415, November.
    18. Henry S. Farber, 2009. "Increasing Voter Turnout: Is Democracy Day the Answer?," Working Papers 1116, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    19. 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.
    20. Andrés Fuentes & Eckhard Wurzel & Andreas Wörgötter, 2006. "Reforming Federal Fiscal Relations in Austria," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 474, OECD Publishing.
    21. Godefroy, Raphael & Henry, Emeric, 2016. "Voter turnout and fiscal policy," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C), pages 389-406.
    22. repec:cup:apsrev:v:105:y:2011:i:01:p:115-134_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias K., 2009. "Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 275-291, May.
    24. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-In-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275.
    25. 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.
    26. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221.
    27. Elizabeth U. Cascio, 2014. "Valuing the Vote: The Redistribution of Voting Rights and State Funds following the Voting Rights Act of 1965," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 379-433.
    28. Mark Gradstein & Branko Milanovic, 2004. "Does Libertè = Egalité? A Survey of the Empirical Links between Democracy and Inequality with Some Evidence on the Transition Economies," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 515-537, September.
    29. David Dreyer Lassen, 2005. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 49(1), pages 103-118, January.
    30. Ebonya Washington, 2006. "How Black Candidates Affect Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 973-998.
    31. Jón R. Blöndal & Daniel Bergvall, 2007. "Budgeting in Austria," OECD Journal on Budgeting, OECD Publishing, vol. 7(3), pages 1-37.
    32. Helios Herrera & Massimo Morelli & Thomas Palfrey, 2014. "Turnout and Power Sharing," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(574), pages 131-162, February.
    33. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
    34. Thomas Fujiwara, 2015. "Voting Technology, Political Responsiveness, and Infant Health: Evidence From Brazil," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 83, pages 423-464, March.
    35. Fernanda Leite Lopez de Leon & Renata Rizzi, 2014. "A Test for the Rational Ignorance Hypothesis: Evidence from a Natural Experiment in Brazil," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 6(4), pages 380-398, November.
    36. Suresh Naidu, 2012. "Suffrage, Schooling, and Sorting in the Post-Bellum U.S. South," NBER Working Papers 18129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    37. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
    38. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-927, October.
    39. Ebonya Washington, 2006. "How Black Candidates Affect Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 11915, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    40. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:145-158_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    41. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Fiscal Effects of the Voter Initiative: Evidence from the Last 30 Years," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(3), pages 587-623, June.
    42. Patricia Funk, 2007. "Is There An Expressive Function of Law? An Empirical Analysis of Voting Laws with Symbolic Fines," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 135-159.
    43. Fowler, Anthony, 2013. "Electoral and Policy Consequences of Voter Turnout: Evidence from Compulsory Voting in Australia," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 8(2), pages 159-182, February.
    44. repec:cup:apsrev:v:104:y:2010:i:02:p:268-288_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    45. repec:pri:cepsud:181farber is not listed on IDEAS
    46. Alesina, Alberto, 1988. "Credibility and Policy Convergence in a Two-Party System with Rational Voters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(4), pages 796-805, September.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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


    Cited by:

    1. Hufe, Paul & Peichl, Andreas, 2016. "Beyond equal rights: Equality of opportunity in political participation," ZEW Discussion Papers 16-068, ZEW - Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research.
    2. Sabet, Navid, 2016. "Turning Out for Redistribution: The Effect of Voter Turnout on Top Marginal Tax Rates," Discussion Papers in Economics 29636, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    3. Leonardo Bursztyn & Davide Cantoni & Patricia Funk & Noam Yuchtman, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 23490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Stefanie Gäbler & Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-formation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6764, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2016. "A Banana Republic? Trust in Electoral Institutions in Western Democracies - Evidence from a Presidential Election in Austria," CESifo Working Paper Series 6254, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2016. "Opening Hours of Polling Stations and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6036, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. repec:spr:soinre:v:132:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1303-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Michael Klien & Mickael Melki & Andrew Pickering, 2018. "Voter Turnout and Intergenerational Redistribution," Discussion Papers 18/10, Department of Economics, University of York.
    9. repec:ces:ifosdt:v:71:y:2018:i:05:p:23-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Gonzales, Mariella & León-Ciliotta, Gianmarco & Martinez, Luis, 2019. "How Effective Are Monetary Incentives to Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 13898, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Compulsory voting; Fiscal policy; Incentives to vote;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    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:pubeco:v:145:y:2017:i:c:p:103-115. 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: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578 .

    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.