Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-Formation

44 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2018

See all articles by Stefanie Gaebler

Stefanie Gaebler

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Niklas Potrafke

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute

Felix Roesel

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Date Written: December 05, 2017

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Gaebler, Stefanie and Potrafke, Niklas and Roesel, Felix, Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-Formation (December 05, 2017). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 6764. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3107513

Stefanie Gaebler (Contact Author)

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Niklas Potrafke

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) - Ifo Institute ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, 01069
Germany

Felix Roesel

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

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