Rain, Opportunity Costs of Voting, and Voter Turnout: Evidence from South Korea
40 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 12, 2015
Existing studies on the importance of election day weather generally consider poor weather an additional cost in the voting calculus, which reduces turnout. In this paper, I claim that the effect of weather on turnout can differ across groups of voters depending on how weather affects the opportunity cost of voting. Inclement weather typically increases the direct cost of voting by making it less convenient. However, it may actually reduce the opportunity cost of voting for people with occupations that rely on good weather conditions. To support this claim, I compare the varying incentives for turnout under different weather conditions in different localities of South Korea based on the proportion of agricultural workers in each population. An analysis of four legislative elections since 2000 shows that the effects of rainfall on turnout are heterogeneous across communities. In urban communities, rainfall decreases turnout regardless of whether an election is competitive. In agricultural communities, rainfall increases turnout, and this positive association is stronger in closer elections.
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