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Happy voters

Author

Listed:
  • Liberini, Federica
  • Redoano, Michela
  • Proto, Eugenio

Abstract

Empirical models of retrospective voting primarily employ standard monetary and financial indicators to proxy for voters' utility and to explain voters' behavior. We show that subjective well-being explains variation in voting intention that goes beyond what is captured by these monetary and financial indicators. For example, individuals who are satisfied with their life are 1.6% more likely to support the incumbent; by contrast, a 10% increase in family income leads to a 0.18% increase in an individual's support of the incumbent. We use difference-in-differences analysis to identify how voter intention is affected by a negative shock to well-being: the death of a spouse. Individuals who experience the death of a spouse are around 10% less likely than those in the control group to support the incumbent. The results hold even if elected officials' policies (health care, social welfare) cannot reasonably be blamed for the death.

Suggested Citation

  • Liberini, Federica & Redoano, Michela & Proto, Eugenio, 2017. "Happy voters," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 146(C), pages 41-57.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:146:y:2017:i:c:p:41-57
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jpubeco.2016.11.013
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Liberini, Federica & Oswald, Andrew J & Proto, Eugenio & Redoano, Michela, 2017. "Was Brexit Caused by the Unhappy and the Old?," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 342, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    2. Chadi, Adrian, 2015. "Concerns about the Euro and happiness in Germany during times of crisis," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PA), pages 126-146.
    3. Nikolova, Milena, 2016. "Minding the happiness gap: Political institutions and perceived quality of life in transition," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 45(S), pages 129-148.
    4. Lockwood, Ben, 2017. "Confirmation Bias and Electoral Accountability," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 11(4), pages 471-501, February.
    5. Powdthavee, Nattavudh & Plagnol, Anke C. & Frijters, Paul & Clark, Andrew E., 2017. "Who Got the Brexit Blues? Using a Quasi-Experiment to Show the Effect of Brexit on Subjective Wellbeing in the UK," IZA Discussion Papers 11206, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Subjective well-being; Happiness; Retrospective voting;

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • D0 - Microeconomics - - General
    • D1 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior

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