When Do the Rich Vote Less than the Poor and Why? Explaining Turnout Inequality Across the World

Forthcoming, American Journal of Political Science

48 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2013 Last revised: 4 Apr 2014

See all articles by Kimuli Kasara

Kimuli Kasara

Columbia University - Department of Political Science

Pavithra Suryanarayan

Columbia University; Johns Hopkins University

Date Written: April 2, 2014

Abstract

The conventional wisdom that the poor are less likely to vote than the rich is based upon research on voting behavior in advanced industrialized countries. However, in some places the relationship between turnout and socioeconomic status is reversed. We argue that the potential tax exposure of the rich explains the positive relationship between income and voting in some places and not others. Where the rich anticipate taxation, they have a greater incentive to participate in politics and politicians are more likely to use fiscal policy to gain support. We explore two factors affecting the tax exposure of the rich – the political salience of redistribution in party politics and the state’s extractive capacity. Using survey data from developed and developing countries, we demonstrate that the rich turn out to vote at higher rates when the political preferences of the rich and poor diverge and where bureaucratic capacity is high.

Keywords: turnout, inequality, fiscal capacity

Suggested Citation

Kasara, Kimuli and Suryanarayan, Pavithra, When Do the Rich Vote Less than the Poor and Why? Explaining Turnout Inequality Across the World (April 2, 2014). Forthcoming, American Journal of Political Science. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2241230 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2241230

Kimuli Kasara

Columbia University - Department of Political Science ( email )

7th Floor, International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Pavithra Suryanarayan (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

1740 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036-1984
United States

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