Regional Authority Increases the Relationship between Socioeconomic Status and Voting
Posted: 3 Feb 2017
Date Written: February 2, 2017
This paper analyses if and how the persistent positive relationship between socioeconomic status and participation can be moderated by institutional design. Hopes to boost turnout rates of socially disadvantaged citizens often rest upon introducing participatory institutions. Already Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexis de Tocqueville or John Stuart Mill claimed an educative effect of close political institutions at the local level, which supposedly should result in a decrease of social bias. More recently, campaigns for greater regional authority throughout Europe signify the demand for opportunities to participate in decentralised, accessible polities. Based on data from 259 regions in Europe we investigate whether political decentralisation and increased opportunities to participate are suitable means to mitigate political inequality Results do not only fail to support the hopeful expectations, but show that decentralisation in fact reinforces electoral inequality. These findings are particularly relevant with regard to combatting inequality and indicate potential side effects of decentralisation campaigns.
Keywords: decentralisation, regional authority, inequality, voting, local government, regions, socioeconomic status
JEL Classification: P48, D72, Z13
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