Does Voter Registration Foster Civic Attitudes? A Natural Experiment in Japan
30 Pages Posted: 7 Jul 2017 Last revised: 17 Apr 2019
Date Written: April 15, 2019
Does voter registration foster civic attitudes? We examine this question via a natural experiment in Japan wherein all citizens, without needing to file any paperwork, are automatically registered to vote at the age of eighteen. Specifically, just after the 2016 House of Councillors election in Japan, we invited thousands of "just eligible" (who could vote in the election) and "not-just-yet eligible" young Japanese citizens to take a survey and measured their level of political interest, trust in government, sense of efficacy in policy making, and intention to vote in the future. The results of our regression discontinuity analysis suggest that automatic registration does not change civic attitudes. Although automatic registration may boost turnout, contrary to advocates' claim, it does not foster civic attitudes because it does not require citizens' self-initiated actions.
Keywords: voter registration, political interest, trust, efficacy, civic attitudes, regression discontinuity, Japan
JEL Classification: D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation