Home > News > Voter Turnout and Fiscal Policy
134 views 56 sec 0 Comment

Voter Turnout and Fiscal Policy

- November 29, 2011

To continue our recent discussions on the effects of potential changes in voter turnout, I pass along a new paper by Raphael Godefroy and Emeric Henry:

Though a large literature on the determinants of turnout has flourished, there is scant evidence on the causal impact of turnout on policies implemented in practice. Using data on French municipalities and instrumental variables for turnout based on temperature and influenza variations, we show that a one percent increase in turnout decreases on average the municipalities’ yearly budget by 1.5 percent. This is mostly due to a decrease in spending on equipment or personnel. We show that this could be the result of a negative effect of turnout on the strength of the incumbent’s majority combined with the fact that the incumbent promises higher budgets. We argue, in the context of a theoretical model, that these diff erent facts could be natural consequences of the well documented incumbency advantage.

My general impression is that in Europe, it is the center-left that is somewhat anti-democratic and the left and right that favor referenda and voter participation. But in the U.S. the left and center-left usually favor voting, whereas the right and center-right are more likely to be anti-democratic. For example in the discussion linked to here, it is typically commenters on the right who say things along the lines of, “voters are ignorant, and elections are stupid.”

Topics on this page