The Social Opportunity Costs of Voting: A Factorial Vignette Survey of a Most-Likely-To-Vote Population
20 Pages Posted: 6 Jul 2014
Date Written: June 16, 2014
This paper starts from the assumption that the decision to vote is partially rooted in the social sphere of an individual. Concretely, the analysis focuses on estimating the effects of the social opportunity costs of voting arising in the non-political context of the voter. The data stem from an experimental factorial vignette survey of 112 first-year political science students in Germany. The multi-level regression analysis yields the following results: (1) voters react to the amount of social opportunity costs of voting in addition to political and institutional factors, (2) the social opportunity costs are affected by the type of alternative action as well as by the characteristics of peers involved in that action. The paper contributes to a broader theoretical understanding of costs in voting participation and strives to bridge a gap between sociological and rational-choice perspectives.
Keywords: voting, opportunity costs, factorial survey
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