Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria

59 Pages Posted: 9 May 2016 Last revised: 21 Mar 2021

See all articles by Mitchell Hoffman

Mitchell Hoffman

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Gianmarco León-Ciliotta

Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona GSE; Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE); Institute for Political Economy and Governance, Barcelona; CEPR

María Lombardi

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Date Written: May 2016

Abstract

We study a unique quasi-experiment in Austria, where compulsory voting laws are changed across Austria's nine states at different times. Analyzing state and national elections from 1949-2010, we show that compulsory voting laws with weakly enforced fines increase turnout by roughly 10 percentage points. However, we find no evidence that this change in turnout affected government spending patterns (in levels or composition) or electoral outcomes. Individual-level data on turnout and political preferences suggest these results occur because individuals swayed to vote due to compulsory voting are more likely to be non-partisan, have low interest in politics, and be uninformed.

Suggested Citation

Hoffman, Mitchell and León-Ciliotta, Gianmarco and Lombardi, María, Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria (May 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w22221, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2777309

Mitchell Hoffman (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Gianmarco León-Ciliotta

Universitat Pompeu Fabra and Barcelona GSE ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain
(+34) 93 542-1757 (Phone)
(+34) 93 542-1746 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://https://sites.google.com/site/gianmarcoleon/

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE) ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27
Barcelona, Catalonia 08014
Spain

Institute for Political Economy and Governance, Barcelona ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

CEPR ( email )

London
United Kingdom

María Lombardi

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain

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