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Political interest, cognitive ability and personality : determinants of voter turnout in Britain (version 1.5)


  • Kevin Denny
  • Orla Doyle


This paper uses longitudinal data from the National Cohort Development Study (NCDS) to investigate the determinants of voter turnout in the 1997 British General Election. It introduces measures of cognitive ability and personality into models of electoral participation and finds that firstly, their inclusion reduces the impact of education and secondly, that standard turnout models may be biased by the inclusion of the much used “interest in politics” measure. A bivariate probit model of turnout and interest then shows that individuals with high ability, an aggressive personality and a sense of civic duty are more likely to both turn out to vote and to have an interest in politics.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200511

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kevin Denny, 2003. "The effects of human capital on social capital : a cross-country analysis (version 1.6)," Working Papers 200318, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    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.
    3. Mueller, Gerrit & Plug, Erik, 2004. "Estimating the Effect of Personality on Male-Female Earnings," IZA Discussion Papers 1254, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    4. 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, June.
    5. Nyhus, Ellen K. & Pons, Empar, 2005. "The effects of personality on earnings," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 363-384, June.
    6. 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.
    7. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    8. Melissa Osborne & Herbert Gintis & Samuel Bowles, 2001. "The Determinants of Earnings: A Behavioral Approach," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 39(4), pages 1137-1176, December.
    9. Kevin Milligan & Enrico Moretti & Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K," NBER Working Papers 9584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:89:y:1995:i:02:p:271-294_09 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:145-158_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Swaddle, Kevin & Heath, Anthony, 1989. "Official and Reported Turnout in the British General Election of 1987," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(04), pages 537-551, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hilde Coffé & Tanja Lippe, 2010. "Citizenship Norms in Eastern Europe," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 96(3), pages 479-496, May.
    2. Arnaud Chevalier & Orla Doyle, 2012. "Schooling and voter turnout : is there an American exception?," Working Papers 201213, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. Panu Pelkonen, 2012. "Length of compulsory education and voter turnout—evidence from a staged reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 51-75, January.
    4. Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2005. "Does voting history matter : analysing persistence in turnout," Open Access publications 10197/167, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    5. R. Urbatsch, 2012. "The paradox of voting intelligently," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(3), pages 511-524, March.


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