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Compulsory Voting and Political Participation: Empirical Evidence from Austria

Author

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  • Stefanie Gäbler
  • Niklas Potrafke
  • Felix Rösel

Abstract

We examine whether compulsory voting influences political participation as measured by voter turnout, invalid voting, political interest, confidence in parliament, and party membership. In Austria, some states temporarily introduced compulsory voting in national elections. We investigate border municipalities across two states which differ in compulsory voting legislation using a difference-in-differences approach. The results show that compulsory voting increased voter turnout by 3.5 percentage points but we do not find long-run effects. Once compulsory voting was abolished, voter turnout returned to pre-compulsory voting levels. Microdata evidence suggests that compulsory voting tends to crowd out intrinsic motivation for political participation which may explain why compulsory voting is not found to be habit-forming.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefanie Gäbler & Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2019. "Compulsory Voting and Political Participation: Empirical Evidence from Austria," ifo Working Paper Series 315, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_315
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Compulsory voting; election; voter turnout; Austria;

    JEL classification:

    • 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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