Social Capital and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Saint's Day Fiestas in Mexico

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.

27 Pages Posted: 13 Apr 2011 Last revised: 26 Apr 2013

See all articles by Matthew Atkinson

Matthew Atkinson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science

Anthony Fowler

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy

Abstract

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.

Keywords: social capital, turnout, political participation, natural experiment

Suggested Citation

Atkinson, Matthew and Fowler, Anthony, Social Capital and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Saint's Day Fiestas in Mexico. 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. , Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1808110 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1808110

Matthew Atkinson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - Department of Political Science ( email )

Loas Angeles, CA
United States

Anthony Fowler (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Harris School of Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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