Estimating Habit Formation in Voting
46 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2013 Last revised: 22 May 2022
Date Written: December 2013
We estimate habit formation in voting--the effect of past on current turnout--by exploiting transitory voting cost shocks. Using county-level data on U.S. presidential elections from 1952-2012, we find that precipitation on current and past election days reduces voter turnout. Our estimates imply that a 1-point decrease in past turnout lowers current turnout by 0.7-0.9 points. Consistent with a dynamic extension of the Downsian framework, current precipitation has stronger effects following previous rainy elections. Further analyses suggest that this habit formation operates by reinforcing the intrinsic satisfaction associated with voting.
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