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The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • David Dreyer Lassen

    (Institute of Economics, University of Copenhagen)

Abstract

Do better informed people vote more? Recent theories of voter turnout emphasize a positive effect of being informed on the propensity to vote, but the possibility of endogenous information acquisition makes estimation of causal effects difficult. I estimate the causal effects of being informed on voter turnout using unique data from a natural experiment Copenhagen referendum on decentralization. Four of fifteen districts carried out a pilot project, exogenously making pilot city district voters more informed about the effects of decentralization. Empirical estimates based on survey data confirm a sizeable and statistically significant causal effect of being informed on the propensity to vote.

Suggested Citation

  • David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:kud:epruwp:04-03
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ku.dk/epru/files/wp/wp-04-03.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Joshua D. Angrist & Alan B. Krueger, 2001. "Instrumental Variables and the Search for Identification: From Supply and Demand to Natural Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 69-85, Fall.
    2. Valentino Larcinese, 2009. "Information Acquisition, Ideology and Turnout: Theory and Evidence From Britain," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 21(2), pages 237-276, April.
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    5. Dee, Thomas S., 2004. "Are there civic returns to education?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1697-1720, August.
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    9. Burden, Barry C., 2000. "Voter Turnout and the National Election Studies," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(04), pages 389-398, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Valentino Larcinese, 2009. "Information Acquisition, Ideology and Turnout: Theory and Evidence From Britain," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 21(2), pages 237-276, April.
    2. Monika Buetler & Michel André Maréchal, 2007. "Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence from a Natural Voting Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 1940, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2010. "The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 61-89.
    4. Valentino Larcinese, 2007. "Does political knowledge increase turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British general election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 387-411, June.
    5. Matthias Fatke, 2013. "Participation and Political Equality in Direct Democracy: Educative Effect or Social Bias," University of Bern Social Sciences Working Papers 3, University of Bern, Department of Social Sciences.
    6. Colin Vance & Ralf Hedel, 2007. "The impact of urban form on automobile travel: disentangling causation from correlation," Transportation, Springer, vol. 34(5), pages 575-588, September.
    7. León, Gianmarco, 2017. "Turnout, political preferences and information: Experimental evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 56-71.
    8. Daniel Houser & Sandra Ludwig & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "Does Deceptive Advertising Reduce Political Participation? Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1011, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
    9. Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2011. "The Effect of Newspaper Entry and Exit on Electoral Politics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 2980-3018, December.
    10. Elena Panova, 2011. "A Passion for Democracy," CIRANO Working Papers 2011s-47, CIRANO.
    11. Kerwin Kofi Charles & Melvin Stephens Jr., 2013. "Employment, Wages, and Voter Turnout," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 111-143, October.
    12. Sobbrio, Francesco & Navarra, Pietro, 2010. "Electoral participation and communicative voting in Europe," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 185-207, June.
    13. Ryo Arawatari, 2009. "Informatization, voter turnout and income inequality," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 7(1), pages 29-54, March.
    14. Julia Rothbauer & Gernot Sieg, 2013. "Public Service Broadcasting of Sport, Shows, and News to Mitigate Rational Ignorance," Journal of Media Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 26(1), pages 21-40, March.
    15. Joseph McMurray, 2008. "Information and Voting: the Wisdom of the Experts versus the Wisdom of the Masses," Wallis Working Papers WP59, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
    16. Jens Großer & Michael Seebauer, 2013. "The curse of uninformed voting: An experimental study," Working Paper Series in Economics 64, University of Cologne, Department of Economics.
    17. Erte Xiao & Daniel Houser, 2007. "Emotion Expression and Fairness in Economic Exchange," Working Papers 1004, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science, revised Nov 2007.
    18. Francesco Drago & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "Meet the Press: How Voters and Politicians Respond to Newspaper Entry and Exit," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-188, July.
    19. Houser, Daniel & Morton, Rebecca & Stratmann, Thomas, 2011. "Turned on or turned out? Campaign advertising, information and voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 708-727.
    20. Martin J. Osborne & Matthew A. Turner, 2010. "Cost Benefit Analyses versus Referenda," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 118(1), pages 156-187, February.
    21. Kennedy Stewart & Patricia MacIver & Stewart Young, 2008. "Testing and Improving Voters' Political Knowledge," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(4), pages 403-418, December.

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    Keywords

    voter turnout; information and voting; political participation; natural experiment;

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