Social Capital and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Saint's Day Fiestas in Mexico
University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science
University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies
Atkinson, Matthew D. and Anthony Fowler. 2012. Social Capital and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Saint's Day Fiestas in Mexico. British Journal of Political Science, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0007123412000713.
Social capital and community activity are thought to increase voter turnout, but reverse causation and omitted variables may bias the results of previous studies. We exploit saint’s day fiestas in Mexico as a natural experiment to test this causal relationship. Saint’s day fiestas provide temporary but large shocks to the connectedness and trust within a community, and the timing of these fiestas is quasi-random. Employing both cross-municipality and within-municipality estimates, we find that saint’s day fiestas occurring near an election decrease turnout by 2.5 to 3.5 percentage points. Community activities which generate social capital can inhibit political participation, giving pause to scholars and policymakers who assume that such activity will improve the performance of democracy.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27
Keywords: social capital, turnout, political participation, natural experimentAccepted Paper Series
Date posted: April 13, 2011 ; Last revised: April 26, 2013
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