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Democratic Participation and the Size of Regions: An Empirical Study Using Data on German Counties


  • Helmut Seitz


The paper examines the relation between political participation and the size of regions taking German counties as observational units. The paper makes several contributions to the literature. To begin with, we measure political participation along two dimensions namely voter turnout, which is the most common variable used in empirical studies, and the number of candidates that run for a seat in county parliaments, a variable that has to the best of our knowledge never been examined at the local level. In addition, we fill a research gap because the issue of size and democracy has not been systematically investigated for Germany up to the present. It is shown, that the size of regions has a rather modest effect upon voter turnout and that active political participation is positively related - with however weak statistical significance - with the size of regions. In addition our results shed some further light on the importance of the educational attainment of the electorate on political participation. Our results indicate a strong positive impact of human capital on turnover. Based on the data presented and the results of our estimates we hypothesize that there is a "hierarchy of elections" on top of which are federal parliament elections whereas local and even state elections seem to be of much inferior interest to the electorate.

Suggested Citation

  • Helmut Seitz, 2008. "Democratic Participation and the Size of Regions: An Empirical Study Using Data on German Counties," CESifo Working Paper Series 2197, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_2197

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Mueller, Dennis C. & Stratmann, Thomas, 2003. "The economic effects of democratic participation," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(9-10), pages 2129-2155, September.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2005. "From Education to Democracy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(2), pages 44-49, May.
    3. R. Purdy, 2002. "Editorial," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(1), pages 1-2, March.
    4. Helmut Seitz, 2007. "Kreisgröße, Bürgerbeteiligung und Demokratie," ifo Dresden berichtet, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 14(05), pages 26-37, October.
    5. Robert J. Barro, 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(S6), pages 158-183, December.
    6. R. K. Pachauri & Sujata Gupta, 2002. "Editorial," Climate Policy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 2(2-3), pages 127-128, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Michelsen, Claus & Bönisch, Peter & Rosenfeld, Martin T. W., 2010. "Sharing Competences: The Impact of Local Institutional Settings on Voter Turnout," IWH Discussion Papers 21/2010, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).
    2. Eckhard Wurzel, 2009. "Finanzpolitik: Stärker auf Ergebnisse hin orientieren," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 62(18), pages 38-42, September.

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    voting; voter turnout; size of regions; education;


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