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Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria

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  • Gianmarco León
  • Mitchell Hoffman
  • Maria Lombardi

Abstract

We study a unique quasi-experiment in Austria, where compulsory voting laws are changed across Austria's nine states at different times. Analyzing all state and national elections since World War II, we show that compulsory voting laws with mild sanctions decreased abstention by roughly 50%. However, we find no evidence that this change in turnout affected government spending patterns (in levels or composition) or the political equilibrium. Individual-level data on turnout and political preferences suggest these results occur because individuals swayed to vote due to compulsory voting are more likely to be non-partisan, have low interest in politics, and are uninformed.

Suggested Citation

  • Gianmarco León & Mitchell Hoffman & Maria Lombardi, 2015. "Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria," Working Papers 856, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:bge:wpaper:856
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Stefanie Gäbler & Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-formation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6764, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. 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.
    5. repec:spr:soinre:v:132:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1303-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. 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.

    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

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