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Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria

Gianmarco León-Ciliotta (), Mitchell Hoffman and Maria Lombardi

No 856, Working Papers from Barcelona Graduate School of Economics

Abstract: We study a unique quasi-experiment in Austria, where compulsory voting laws are changed across Austria's nine states at different times. Analyzing all state and national elections since World War II, we show that compulsory voting laws with mild sanctions decreased abstention by roughly 50%. However, we find no evidence that this change in turnout affected government spending patterns (in levels or composition) or the political equilibrium. Individual-level data on turnout and political preferences suggest these results occur because individuals swayed to vote due to compulsory voting are more likely to be non-partisan, have low interest in politics, and are uninformed.

Keywords: compulsory voting; fiscal policy; incentives to vote (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H10 D72 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015-08
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
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Related works:
Journal Article: Compulsory voting, turnout, and government spending: Evidence from Austria (2017) Downloads
Working Paper: Compulsory Voting, Turnout, and Government Spending: Evidence from Austria (2016) Downloads
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