Gender, Race, Age, and Voting: A Research Note

10 Pages Posted: 1 Aug 2011 Last revised: 18 Aug 2011

See all articles by Stephen Ansolabehere

Stephen Ansolabehere

Harvard University - Department of Government

Eitan Hersh

Yale University

Date Written: 2011


In this brief analysis, we use a new dataset of two million voter registration records to demonstrate that gender, race, and age do not correlate with political participation in ways that previous research has shown. Among Blacks and Latinos, women participate at vastly higher rates than men; many Blacks participate at higher rates than Whites; and the relationship between age and participation is both not linear and varies by race and gender. Survey research is unable to capture the true relationship between demographics and participation, on account of survey bias and, more importantly, the non-linearity of effects. As a result, theories of participation, like the dominant resources-based models, have been built on faulty premises and tested with inadequate data. Our evidence calls for a renewed effort to understand election participation by utilizing large datasets, by being attentive to linearity assumptions, and by returning to theory.

Keywords: race, gender, age, voting, participation

Suggested Citation

Ansolabehere, Stephen and Hersh, Eitan, Gender, Race, Age, and Voting: A Research Note (2011). APSA 2011 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Stephen Ansolabehere (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Eitan Hersh

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States


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