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Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria

Author

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  • Mitchell Hoffman
  • Gianmarco León
  • María Lombardi

Abstract

We study a unique quasi-experiment in Austria, where compulsory voting laws are changed across Austria's nine states at different times. Analyzing state and national elections from 1949-2010, we show that compulsory voting laws with weakly enforced fines increase turnout by roughly 10 percentage points. However, we find no evidence that this change in turnout affected government spending patterns (in levels or composition) or electoral outcomes. Individual-level data on turnout and political preferences suggest these results occur because individuals swayed to vote due to compulsory voting are more likely to be non-partisan, have low interest in politics, and be uninformed.

Suggested Citation

  • Mitchell Hoffman & Gianmarco León & María Lombardi, 2016. "Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria," NBER Working Papers 22221, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22221
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    Cited by:

    1. Sabet, Navid, 2016. "Turning Out for Redistribution: The Effect of Voter Turnout on Top Marginal Tax Rates," Discussion Papers in Economics 29636, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    2. Leonardo Bursztyn & Davide Cantoni & Patricia Funk & Noam Yuchtman, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 23490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Stefanie Gäbler & Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-formation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6764, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2016. "A Banana Republic? Trust in Electoral Institutions in Western Democracies - Evidence from a Presidential Election in Austria," CESifo Working Paper Series 6254, CESifo Group Munich.
    5. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2016. "Opening Hours of Polling Stations and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 6036, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. repec:spr:soinre:v:132:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1303-8 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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