Sick Leave From Work and Voting Booth? A Register-Based Study on Health and Turnout
20 Pages Posted: 25 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
A growing body of studies suggests that poor health or disability decreases turnout. Previous empirical analyses have, however, faced certain limitations, such as use of survey data and generic measures of health based on self-assessment. Using individual-level register data from Finland with information on sickness allowance episodes and voting, we aim to deepen the understanding of the health-turnout relationship by examining following questions. First, what is the degree of health problems that begin to negatively influence turnout? Second, what is the cumulative effect of health problems on voting? And third, how does change in health condition influence voting activity? The results indicate that sickness absences are associated with lower turnout. Even short term sickness absences are related to slightly lower voting activity but a substantial drop in voting probability occurs only among those with long sickness absence spells. Health problems are also cumulative in nature. Accumulation of sickness absences over several years decreases voting propensity more than health problems suffered only in the year prior to the elections. Finally, even after recovering from earlier health problems the voting propensity stays lower than among those who have not experienced major health problems.
Keywords: health, turnout, sickness allowence
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