NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Kyle C. Meng

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Working Papers

December 2013Estimating Habit Formation in Voting
with Thomas Fujiwara, Tom Vogl: w19721
We estimate habit formation in voting—the effect of past on current turnout—by exploiting transitory voting cost shocks. Using county-level data on U.S. presidential elections from 1952-2012, we find that precipitation on current and past election days reduces voter turnout. Our estimates imply that a 1-point decrease in past turnout lowers current turnout by 0.7-0.9 points. Consistent with a dynamic extension of the Downsian framework, current precipitation has stronger effects following previous rainy elections. Further analyses suggest that this habit formation operates by reinforcing the intrinsic satisfaction associated with voting.

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