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Does Income Inequality enter into an Aggregate Model of Voter Turnout? Evidence from Canada and Indian States*

J. Stephen Ferris, Bharatee Dash and Marcel Voia

No 21-09, Carleton Economic Papers from Carleton University, Department of Economics

Abstract: Conflict theory argues that greater income inequality induces greater political and electoral participation. Relative power theory argues that greater inequality leads to political alienation and electoral disengagement. We test these alternatives on time series data by entering the Gini coefficient into an aggregate model of electoral participation in Canada. While ordinary least squares (OLS) results suggest that income inequality is inversely related to voter turnout, time series considerations raise the possibility that this result is spurious. Correction using a linear autoregressive distribution lag (ARDL) model finds no evidence of a relationship, but nonparametric modeling suggests an inverted U-shaped shape that is captured quadratically within the ARDL model. Additional support is found when the nonlinearity hypothesis is tested on a panel of Indian states. Together the results are consistent with the hypothesis that conflict theory operates at low levels of income inequality before growing inequality leads to voter alienation and lower turnouts consistent with relative power theory.

Keywords: voter turnout; income inequality; Canadian time series and ARDL modeling; Indian state panel data; nonlinear relationships. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D78 H62 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 29 pages
Date: 2021-08-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-pol
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Citations: View citations in EconPapers (1)

Published: Carleton Economics Papers

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