Civic Engagement and Civic Attitudes: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis
58 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017 Last revised: 6 Apr 2020
Date Written: March 25, 2020
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 its effect on citizens’ socio-political experiences and their civic attitudes. To fill this gap, we leverage a natural experiment in Japan, where citizens who turn eighteen years old and become eligible to vote in elections are automatically registered. The results of our exact-date-of-birth regression discontinuity analysis suggest that self-reported voting eligibility 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