Estimating Habit Formation in Voting
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.
We thank seminar participants at U.C. Davis and University of Toronto for comments; James Campbell, Wolfram Schlenker, and James Snyder for sharing data; and Sarah Weltman for excellent research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- ...rain on the previous election day lowers current voter turnout. Economists and political scientists have observed that a citizen...
Fujiwara, Thomas, Kyle Meng, and Tom Vogl. 2016. "Habit Formation in Voting: Evidence from Rainy Elections." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 8 (4): 160-88.