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For shame! The effect of community cooperative context on the probability of voting


  • Knack, Stephen
  • Kropf, Martha


The question of why some people vote in American national elections and others do not has been the focus of a vast literature in social science. Numerous empirical regularities have been established, such that we now know "who votes" and who doesn't, in the sense that various demographic characteristics -- most notably education -- are strongly correlated with turnout (Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980; Teixeira 1987, 1992). A consensus on "why", in the form of theories and evidence on the motives of individuals, has been slower to emerge. This study builds on previous work emphasizing the political relevance of civic norms prescribing social cooperation. In this analysis, we use a county-level variable -- mail-in census response rates -- to measure the strength of civic norms in counties represented in the 1992 American National Election Study (NES), finding that the likelihood of one’s voting increases with the county’s census response rate, controlling for the usual set of factors associated with turnout. We explore one information source by which people may learn about community expectations, the newspaper.

Suggested Citation

  • Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 1998. "For shame! The effect of community cooperative context on the probability of voting," MPRA Paper 27258, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:27258

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Stephen Knack & Philip Keefer, 1997. "Does Social Capital Have an Economic Payoff? A Cross-Country Investigation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 112(4), pages 1251-1288.
    2. repec:cup:apsrev:v:60:y:1966:i:03:p:640-654_13 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:02:p:471-490_19 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Coleman, 2014. "Diffusion and spatial equilibrium of a social norm: voting participation in the United States, 1920–2008," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 48(3), pages 1769-1783, May.
    2. 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.
    3. Isaksson, Ann-Sofie & Kotsadam, Andreas & Nerman, Måns, 2012. "The Gender Gap in African Political Participation: Individual and contextual determinants," Working Papers in Economics 530, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics.
    4. Coleman, S., 2010. "Russian Election Reform and the Effect of Social Conformity on Voting and the Party System: 2007 and 2008," Journal of the New Economic Association, New Economic Association, issue 5, pages 73-90.
    5. Isaksson, Ann-Sofie, 2010. "Political participation in Africa: Participatory inequalities and the role of resources," Working Papers in Economics 462, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised 01 Oct 2010.
    6. Martha Kropf, 2009. "Won't You Be My Neighbor? Norms of Cooperation, Public Broadcasting, and the Collective Action Problem," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 90(3), pages 538-552.
    7. repec:ucn:wpaper:10197/946 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. 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.
    9. Coleman, Stephen, 2014. "Evolution of the Russian Political Party System under the Influence of Social Conformity: 1993-2011," MPRA Paper 59038, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    voting; elections; turnout; social norms;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification


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