Identifying Effects of Voter Registration on Civic Engagement and Civic Attitudes
49 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017 Last revised: 20 Oct 2019
Date Written: October 18, 2019
Although reaching the voting age and getting enrolled in the voters' list is an essential first step for civic engagement in the electoral process, existing studies have rarely investigated the effect of voter registration on citizens' socio-political experiences and their civic attitudes. To fill this gap, we leverage a natural experiment in Japan, where all citizens are automatically registered to vote at the age of eighteen. The results of our exact-date-of-birth regression discontinuity analysis suggest that voter registration increases young citizens' interaction with other voters and facilitates their information acquisition before the election. It is not enough, however, to change their civic attitudes, such as a sense of efficacy. We argue that the intensity of civic engagement under the automatic registration system is weak due to the lack of citizens' self-initiated actions for voter registration itself.
Keywords: civic engagement, civic attitudes, voter registration, political interest, trust, efficacy, regression discontinuity, Japan
JEL Classification: D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation