Evidence that Casting a Ballot Increases Political Trust: Isolating the Downstream Effects of Voting by Generating Exogenous Shocks in Turnout
33 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2018
Date Written: October 25, 2018
This study provides empirical evidence that the act of voting causes trust in government to increase. Because political participation is also affected by political trust, empirical identification is challenging. An intensive mobilization treatment randomly increases instrumental motivations to cast a ballot in a local election, successfully generating a substantial increase in turnout. The mobilization treatment is treated as an instrumental variable, in order to isolate exogenously-driven increases in participation. The analysis estimates the effects of casting a ballot on trust in government. The results suggest that the act of voting causes citizens to increase their trust in both the electoral system used on the ballot, and in the government elected in that election. Additional analyses suggest the effects of voting are strongest among citizens who also approve of the electoral outcome, and among citizens who were not previously registered to vote.
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