IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Schooling and Voter Turnout: Is there an American Exception?

  • Chevalier, Arnaud


    (Royal Holloway, University of London)

  • Doyle, Orla


    (University College Dublin)

One of the most consistent findings in studies of electoral behaviour is that individuals with higher education have a greater propensity to vote. The nature of this relationship is much debated, with US studies generally finding evidence of a causal relationship, while European studies generally reporting no causal effect. To assess whether the US is an exception we rely on an international dataset incorporating 38 countries, the ISSP (International Social Survey Programme) from 1985 to 2010. Both instrumental variable and multi-level modelling approaches reveal that the US is an outlier regarding the relationship between education and voter turnout. Moreover, country-specific institutional and economic factors do not explain the heterogeneity in the relationship of interest. Alternatively, we show that disenfranchisement laws in the U.S. mediate the effect of education on voter turnout, such that the education gradient in voting is greater in U.S. States with the harshest disenfranchisement legislature. As such, the observed relationship between education and voting is partly driven by the effect of education on crime.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6539.

in new window

Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6539
Contact details of provider: Postal:
IZA, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

Phone: +49 228 3894 223
Fax: +49 228 3894 180
Web page:

Order Information: Postal: IZA, Margard Ody, P.O. Box 7240, D-53072 Bonn, Germany

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. James H. Stock & Motohiro Yogo, 2002. "Testing for Weak Instruments in Linear IV Regression," NBER Technical Working Papers 0284, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Panu Pelkonen, 2009. "Length of Compulsory Education and Voter Turnout - Evidence from a Staged Reform," CEE Discussion Papers 0108, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  3. Devereux, Paul J. & Hart, Robert A., 2008. "Forced to Be Rich? Returns to Compulsory Schooling in Britain," IZA Discussion Papers 3305, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Denny, Kevin & Doyle, Orla, 2008. "Political Interest, Cognitive Ability and Personality: Determinants of Voter Turnout in Britain," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 38(02), pages 291-310, April.
  5. Willa Friedman & Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2016. "Education as Liberation?," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 83(329), pages 1-30, 01.
  6. Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2005. "Political interest, cognitive ability and personality : determinants of voter turnout in Britain (version 1.5)," Working Papers 200511, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  7. Decio Coviello & Matteo Bobba, 2006. "Weak instruments and weak identification in estimating the effects of education on democracy," IDB Publications (Working Papers) 6698, Inter-American Development Bank.
  8. Thomas Siedler, 2010. "Schooling and Citizenship in a Young Democracy: Evidence from Postwar Germany," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 112(2), pages 315-338, 06.
  9. Gerber, Alan S. & Gruber, Jonathan & Hungerman, Daniel M., 2016. "Does Church Attendance Cause People to Vote? Using Blue Laws’ Repeal to Estimate the Effect of Religiosity on Voter Turnout," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(03), pages 481-500, July.
  10. Barro, Robert J., 1999. "Determinants of Democracy," Scholarly Articles 3451297, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  11. Filipe R. Campante & Davin Chor, 2012. "Schooling, Political Participation, and the Economy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 841-859, November.
  12. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson & Pierre Yared, 2005. "From Education to Democracy?," NBER Working Papers 11204, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Thomas Siedler, 2011. "Parental unemployment and young people's extreme right‐wing party affinity: evidence from panel data," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 174(3), pages 737-758, 07.
  14. Edward Glaeser & Giacomo Ponzetto & Andrei Shleifer, 2006. "Why Does Democracy Need Education?," NBER Working Papers 12128, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Amparo Castello Climent, 2006. "On the Distribution of Education and Democracy," Working Papers 0602, International Economics Institute, University of Valencia.
  16. Daniel Miles, . "Can we teach civic attitudes?," Studies on the Spanish Economy 225, FEDEA.
  17. Marco Castillo & Paul Ferraro & Jeff Jordan & Ragan Petrie, 2008. "The Today and Tomorrow of Kids," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2008-10, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  18. Giorgio Di Pietro & Marcos Delprato, 2009. "Education and Civic Outcomes in Italy," Public Finance Review, SAGE Publishing, vol. 37(4), pages 421-446, July.
  19. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
  20. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Melvin Stephens Jr., 2013. "Employment, Wages, and Voter Turnout," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 111-43, October.
  21. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  22. Christopher F Baum & Mark E Schaffer & Steven Stillman, 2002. "IVREG2: Stata module for extended instrumental variables/2SLS and GMM estimation," Statistical Software Components S425401, Boston College Department of Economics, revised 09 Feb 2016.
  23. Lance Lochner & Enrico Moretti, 2004. "The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison Inmates, Arrests, and Self-Reports," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 155-189, March.
  24. Charles Pattie & Ron Johnston, 2001. "A Low Turnout Landslide: Abstention at the British General Election of 1997," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 49(2), pages 286-305, 06.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6539. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mark Fallak)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.