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Voter Turnout and City Performance

Listed author(s):
  • Anna Lo Prete

    ()

    (Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Torino)

  • Federico Revelli

    ()

    (Department of Economics and Statistics, University of Torino)

We study the impact of exogenous variation in Italian municipal elections'voter turnout rates on city performance scores and elected mayors' indicators of valence. First, we build a simple model of voluntary and costly expressive voting, where the relative weight of ideology and valence issues over voting costs determines how people vote, and if they actually turn out to vote. We show that the cost of voting depresses voter turnout, yet can raise the chances of selecting higher valence candidates and thereby improve government performance. Em- pirically, city performance is measured along a number of dimensions including a unique index of overall urban environmental quality, and mayors'valence is proxied by variables reflecting their professional experience and competence. The staggered nature of the municipal election schedule allows us to exploit exogenous variation in voter turnout rates through the 2000s due to the pres- ence of concomitant regional, general and European parliament elections, and to weather conditions (rainfall) on the election day. The results from a number of specifications and quality of policy-making indicators consistently point to a negative impact of voter turnout rates on the performance of cities and the valence of mayors.

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Paper provided by Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica in its series Working papers with number 10.

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Date of creation: Nov 2014
Handle: RePEc:ipu:wpaper:10
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Società Italiana di Economia Pubblica Corso Strada Nuova 65 27100 Pavia Italia

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