Does Compulsory Voting Help Equalize Incomes?

25 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2008


This paper explores the link between compulsory voting and income distribution using a cross-section of countries around the world. Our empirical cross-country analysis for 91 countries during the period 1960-2000 shows that when compulsory voting can be strongly enforced the distribution of income improves as measured by the Gini coefficient and the bottom income quintiles of the population. Our findings are robust to changes and additions to our benchmark specification. Because poorer countries are the ones with relatively more unequal distribution of income it might make sense to promote such voting schemes in developing regions, such as Latin America. This, under the assumption that bureaucratic costs related with design and implementation are not excessive.

Suggested Citation

Chong, Alberto and Olivera, Mauricio, Does Compulsory Voting Help Equalize Incomes?. Economics & Politics, Vol. 20, Issue 3, pp. 391-415, November 2008. Available at SSRN: or

Alberto Chong (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa ( email )

2292 Edwin Crescent
Ottawa, Ontario K2C 1H7

Mauricio Olivera

Fedesarrollo ( email )

Calle 78 No 9-91
Santafe de Bogota, 75074

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