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Estimating Habit Formation in Voting

  • Thomas Fujiwara
  • Kyle C. Meng
  • Tom Vogl
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    We estimate habit formation in voting--the effect of past on current turnout--by exploiting transitory voting cost shocks. Using county-level data on U.S. presidential elections from 1952-2012, we find that precipitation on current and past election days reduces voter turnout. Our estimates imply that a 1-point decrease in past turnout lowers current turnout by 0.7-0.9 points. Consistent with a dynamic extension of the Downsian framework, current precipitation has stronger effects following previous rainy elections. Further analyses suggest that this habit formation operates by reinforcing the intrinsic satisfaction associated with voting.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19721.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19721.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2013
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    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19721
    Note: PE POL
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    1. Alan Gerber & Donald Green & Ron Shachar, 2003. "Voting may be habit forming: Evidence from a randomized field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00251, The Field Experiments Website.
    2. Andreas Madestam & Daniel Shoag & Stan Veuger & David Yanagizawa-Drott, 2013. "Do Political Protests Matter? Evidence from the Tea Party Movement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(4), pages 1633-1685.
    3. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
    4. Sendhil Mullainathan & Ebonya Washington, 2006. "Sticking with Your Vote: Cognitive Dissonance and Voting," NBER Working Papers 11910, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. William J. Collins & Robert A. Margo, 2004. "The Economic Aftermath of the 1960s Riots in American Cities: Evidence from Property Values," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0410, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    6. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
    7. Meredith, Marc, 2009. "Persistence in Political Participation," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 4(3), pages 187-209, October.
    8. Karen E. Dynan, 2000. "Habit Formation in Consumer Preferences: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(3), pages 391-406, June.
    9. Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2006. "Does Voting History Matter? Analysing Persistence in Turnout," Working Papers 200607, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
    10. Heien, Dale & Durham, Cathy, 1991. "A Test of the Habit Formation Hypothesis Using Household Data," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 73(2), pages 189-99, May.
    11. Andreoni, James, 1989. "Giving with Impure Altruism: Applications to Charity and Ricardian Equivalence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1447-58, December.
    12. repec:aei:rpaper:36359 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Madestam, Andreas & Yanagizawa-Drott, David, 2012. "Shaping of the Nation: The Effect of Fourth of July on Political Preferences and Behavior in the United States," Working Paper Series rwp12-034, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
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