Long-run Effects of Earlier Voting Eligibility on Turnout and Political Involvement
53 Pages Posted: 14 Nov 2023
Date Written: October 17, 2023
Theories of habit formation and transformative voting posit that voting has long-run consequences for turnout and political involvement, with younger voters possibly experiencing more pronounced effects from earlier eligibility. Long-term evidence of the effects of becoming eligible to vote at a younger age remains scarce. We use rich, long-term panel data from the UK to examine the effects of earlier voting eligibility on turnout and political involvement. By leveraging the election eligibility cut-off in a regression discontinuity design, our precise estimates document that earlier eligibility results in contemporaneous increases in several measures of political involvement. However, these short-term effects fade away quickly and do not translate into permanent changes in turnout propensity or political involvement. Our results imply that, in a setting with low institutional barriers to vote, the persistent and transformative effects of being eligible to vote at a younger age are short-lived at most.
Keywords: habit formation; transformative voting hypothesis; voter turnout; persistence; regression discontinuity
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