Turnout, Political Preferences and Information: Experimental Evidence from Peru
I combine a field experiment with a change in voting laws reducing the fine for abstention to assess the effects of monetary incentives to encourage voter participation. Using individual-level experimental variation in the perceived reduction of the fine for abstention and an objective measure of turnout at the individual level, I estimate that a 10 percent decrease in the cost of abstention decreases the probability of voting by 2.2 percentage points, implying an elasticity of voting with respect to the cost of -0.22. As predicted by the model, the reduction in turnout is driven by voters who (i) are in the center of the political spectrum, (ii) hold less political information, and (iii) are less interested in politics. The increase in abstention does not change aggregate preferences for specific policies, on average. Further, involvement in politics, as measured by the decision to acquire political information, seems to be independent of the level of the fine.
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