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Diffusion and spatial equilibrium of a social norm: voting participation in the United States, 1920–2008

Listed author(s):
  • Stephen Coleman

    ()

Social conformity can spread social norms and behaviors through a society. This research examines such a process geographically and over time for voting, which is strongly influenced by the norm that citizens should vote. A mathematical model for the spread of voting participation under the influence of social conformity is developed based on the diffusion equation, and predictions are tested with spatial analysis of state-level voter turnout in American presidential elections from 1920 to 2008. Results show that voter turnout has converged to a stable equilibrium in its geographical distribution across the states—but it is an equilibrium that results in persistent differences at the state level. Results are compared to individual-level and agent-based models. The model may be applied to other types of social diffusion that depend on specific geographical location. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11135-013-9873-x
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Quality & Quantity.

Volume (Year): 48 (2014)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 1769-1783

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Handle: RePEc:spr:qualqt:v:48:y:2014:i:3:p:1769-1783
DOI: 10.1007/s11135-013-9873-x
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Order Information: Web: http://www.springer.com/economics/journal/11135

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  1. Cho, Wendy K Tam & Rudolph, Thomas J, 2008. "Emanating Political Participation: Untangling the Spatial Structure Behind Participation," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 273-289, April.
  2. Coleman, Stephen, 2004. "The Effect of Social Conformity on Collective Voting Behavior," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 12(01), pages 76-96, December.
  3. William A. Brock & Steven N. Durlauf, 2001. "Discrete Choice with Social Interactions," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 68(2), pages 235-260.
  4. Nikolay Nenovsky & S. Statev, 2006. "Introduction," Post-Print halshs-00260898, HAL.
  5. M. Ruth & K. Donaghy & P. Kirshen, 2006. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Regional Climate Change and Variability, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
  6. Young, H.P., 1999. "Diffusion in Social Networks," Papers 2, Brookings Institution - Working Papers.
  7. Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 1998. "For shame! The effect of community cooperative context on the probability of voting," MPRA Paper 27258, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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