Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout

41 Pages Posted: 27 Nov 2007 Last revised: 7 Aug 2008

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Christopher T. Dawes

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Date Written: December 1, 2007

Abstract

Fowler, Baker, and Dawes (2008) recently showed in two independent studies of twins that voter turnout has very high heritability. Here we investigate two specific genes that may contribute to this heritability via their impact on neurochemical processes that influence social behavior. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that a polymorphism of the MAOA gene significantly increases the likelihood of voting. We also find evidence of a gene-environment interaction between religious attendance and a polymorphism of the 5HTT gene that significantly increases voter turnout. These are the first results to ever link specific genes to political behavior and they suggest that political scientists should take seriously the claim that at least some variation in political behavior is due to innate predispositions.

Keywords: genes, turnout, political participation, MAOA, 5HTT, seratonin

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H. and Dawes, Christopher T., Two Genes Predict Voter Turnout (December 1, 2007). Journal of Politics, Vol. 70, No. 3, pp. 579-594, July 2008. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1032632 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1032632

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Christopher T. Dawes

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://dss.ucsd.edu/~cdawes/

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