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Turnout, political preferences and information: Experimental evidence from Perú

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Abstract

Electoral institutions that encourage citizens to vote are widely used around the world. Yet little is known about the effects of such institutions on voter participation and the composition of the electorate. In this paper, I combine a field experiment with a change in Peruvian voting laws to identify the effect of monetary (dis-)incentives on voting. Using the random variation in the fine for abstention and an objective measure of turnout at the individual level, I estimate the elasticity of voting with respect to cost to be -0.21. Consistent with the theoretical model presented, the reduction in turnout induced by the reduction in the fine is driven by voters who (i) are in the center of the political spectrum, (ii) are less interested in politics, and (iii) hold less political information. However, voters who respond to changes in the cost of abstention do not have different preferences for policies than those who vote regardless of the cost. Further, involvement in politics, as measured by the decision to acquire political information, seems to be independent of the level of the fine. Additional results indicate that the reduction in the fine does not affect the incidence of vote buying, but increases the price paid for a vote.

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  • Gianmarco León, 2013. "Turnout, political preferences and information: Experimental evidence from Perú," Economics Working Papers 1364, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:1364
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    1. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Cantoni, Davide & Funk, Patricia & Yuchtman, Noam, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," CEPR Discussion Papers 12088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Lo Prete, Anna & Revelli, Federico, 2014. "Voter Turnout and City Performance," Department of Economics and Statistics Cognetti de Martiis. Working Papers 201435, University of Turin.
    3. Alberto Chong & Gianmarco León‐Ciliotta & Vivian Roza & Martín Valdivia & Gabriela Vega, 2019. "Urbanization Patterns, Information Diffusion, and Female Voting in Rural Paraguay," American Journal of Political Science, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 63(2), pages 323-341, April.
    4. Amrita Dillon & GANI ALDASHEV, 2015. "Voter Turnout and Political Rents," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 17(4), pages 528-552, August.
    5. Leonardo Bursztyn & Davide Cantoni & Patricia Funk & Felix Schönenberger & Noam Yuchtman, 2017. "Identifying the Effect of Election Closeness on Voter Turnout: Evidence from Swiss Referenda," NBER Working Papers 23490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Alberto Chong & Gianmarco León & Vivian Roza & Martin Valdivia & Gabriela Vega, 2017. "Urbanization patterns, social interactions and female voting in rural Paraguay," Economics Working Papers 1589, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    7. Gaebler, Stefanie & Potrafke, Niklas & Roesel, Felix, 2020. "Compulsory voting and political participation: Empirical evidence from Austria," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting Behavior; Incentives to Vote; Public Choice; Perú.;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • O53 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Asia including Middle East

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