Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-Formation
44 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2018
Date Written: December 05, 2017
We examine whether compulsory voting influences habit-formation in voting. In Austria, some states temporarily introduced compulsory voting in national elections. We exploit border municipalities across two states that differ in compulsory voting legislation using a difference-in-differences and a difference-in-discontinuity approach. We investigate the long-term effects of compulsory voting on voter turnout, invalid votes and vote shares for left-wing and right-wing parties. The results show that compulsory voting increased voter turnout by 3.4 percentage points. When compulsory voting was abolished, voter turnout, however, returned to the pre-compulsory voting level. The results also do not suggest that compulsory voting influenced invalid votes and vote shares of left-wing and right-wing parties asymmetrically. We conclude that compulsory voting was not habit-forming.
Keywords: compulsory voting, voter turnout, party vote shares, difference-in-discontinuity design, habit-formation, Austria
JEL Classification: D720, P100
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