Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=1914333
 
 

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Compulsory Voting, Habit Formation, and Political Participation


Michael M. Bechtel


Washington University in Saint Louis

Dominik Hangartner


London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Lukas Schmid


January 2015


Abstract:     
Can compulsory voting induce lasting changes in citizens' voting habits? We study the long-term and spillover effects of a severely sanctioned and long-standing compulsory voting law in the Swiss canton of Vaud (1900-1970). Our findings suggest that compulsory voting strongly increases turnout in federal referendums by about 30 percentage points. However, this effect returns to zero quickly after voting is no longer compulsory. Moreover, we find only minor spillover effects on related forms of political participation. These spillover effects are limited to referendums that were concurrent with referendums for which voting was compulsory. These results question habit formation arguments in the context of compulsory voting laws. Instead, our findings are consistent with a rationalist model of political participation in which individuals quickly adapt to changes in the costs of non-voting.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 34

JEL Classification: H41, P16, D72


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Date posted: August 22, 2011 ; Last revised: February 12, 2015

Suggested Citation

Bechtel, Michael M. and Hangartner, Dominik and Schmid, Lukas, Compulsory Voting, Habit Formation, and Political Participation (January 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1914333 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1914333

Contact Information

Michael M. Bechtel (Contact Author)
Washington University in Saint Louis ( email )
Campus Box 1063
One Brookings Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States
Dominik Hangartner
London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )
Departments of Government and Methodology
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
Stanford Immigration Policy Lab
30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
No contact information is available for Lukas Schmid
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