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Does voting history matter? Analysing persistence in turnout

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  • Kevin Denny
  • Orla Doyle

Abstract

Individuals who vote in one election are also more likely to vote in the next. Modelling the causal relationship between past and current voting decisions however is intrinsically difficult, as this positive association can exist due to habit formation or unobserved heterogeneity. This paper overcomes this problem using longitudinal data from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS) to examine voter turnout across three elections. It distinguishes between unobserved heterogeneity caused by fixed individual characteristics and the initial conditions problem, which occurs when voting behaviour in a previous, but unobserved, period influences current voting behaviour. It finds that controlling for fixed effects unobserved heterogeneity has little impact on the estimated degree of habit in voter turnout, however failing to control for initial conditions reduces the estimate by a half. The results imply that voting in one election increases the probability of voting in a subsequent election by 13%.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2006. "Does voting history matter? Analysing persistence in turnout," Working Papers 200607, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucn:wpaper:200607
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/951
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Kevin Denny & Orla Doyle, 2005. "Take up thy bed, and vote : measuring the relationship between voting behaviour and indicators of health," Working Papers 200522, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. 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.
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    5. Ebonya Washington & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2009. "Sticking with Your Vote: Cognitive Dissonance and Political Attitudes," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 86-111, January.
    6. Chamberlain, Gary, 1984. "Panel data," Handbook of Econometrics,in: Z. Griliches† & M. D. Intriligator (ed.), Handbook of Econometrics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 22, pages 1247-1318 Elsevier.
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    8. Denise Hawkes & Ian Plewis, 2006. "Modelling non-response in the National Child Development Study," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 169(3), pages 479-491.
    9. 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.
    10. Arulampalam, Wiji & Booth, Alison L & Taylor, Mark P, 2000. "Unemployment Persistence," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 52(1), pages 24-50, January.
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    12. Green, Donald P. & Shachar, Ron, 2000. "Habit Formation and Political Behaviour: Evidence of Consuetude in Voter Turnout," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 30(04), pages 561-573, October.
    13. Brody, Richard A. & Sniderman, Paul M., 1977. "From Life Space to Polling Place: The Relevance of Personal Concerns for Voting Behavior," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(03), pages 337-360, July.
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    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Martorana, Marco F. & Mazza, Isidoro, 2012. "Adaptive voting: an empirical analysis of participation and choice," MPRA Paper 36165, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Carol Newman & Liam Delaney & Brian Nolan, 2008. "A Dynamic Model of the Relationship Between Income and Financial Satisfaction: Evidence from Ireland," The Economic and Social Review, Economic and Social Studies, vol. 39(2), pages 105-130.
    3. Thomas Fujiwara & Kyle C. Meng & Tom Vogl, 2013. "Estimating Habit Formation in Voting," NBER Working Papers 19721, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Nolan, Anne, 2010. "A dynamic analysis of household car ownership," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 44(6), pages 446-455, July.
    5. Martorana, Marco & Mazza, Isidoro, 2010. "Satisfaction and adaptation in voting behavior: an empirical exploration," DEMQ Working Paper Series 2010/6, University of Catania, Department of Economics and Quantitative Methods.

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