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Social inequality and voter turnout - evidence from EU elections Daniel Horn TÁRKI GINI Year-One Conference February 4-5. 2011. Milan.

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Presentation on theme: "Social inequality and voter turnout - evidence from EU elections Daniel Horn TÁRKI GINI Year-One Conference February 4-5. 2011. Milan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Social inequality and voter turnout - evidence from EU elections Daniel Horn TÁRKI GINI Year-One Conference February Milan

2 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn2 Introduction Why people vote? –Individual explanations rational choice (Downs 1957, Tulock 1967, Riker and Ordershook 1968, Muller 2003) social capital (Putnam 2000), social status (Lijphart 1997) civic resources (Verba, Schlotzman, Brady 1995) –Macro explanations (see e.g. Geys 2006) socio economic (population size, - stability, - concentration, - homogenity) political variables (closeness, campaign spendings, fragmentation) institutional variables (electoral system, compulsory voting, concurrent elections, registration requirements) But how does inequality associate with voter turnout? Does higher inequality drive more people to cast a vote? Or does it hinder this form of political participation?

3 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn3 Additional motivation The link between inequality and redistribution is thought to be well established (Meltzer and Richard 1981). –lower income people prefer more redistribution –higher turnout is likely to be driven by higher turnout of lower income people, who demand more redistribution (the median voter is moving to the „left”) –thus the association between inequality and redistibution is mediated by voter turnout (see Lacrinese 2007) So the association between inequality and voter turnout is interesting as a part of the governmental redistribution topic as well.

4 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn4 Possible explanations Three possible ways of asociation bw/ inequality and voter turnout –negative –positive –none (less interesting)

5 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn5 Possible explanations - negative Changing political agenda (Solt 2010, Schattschneider 1960) –rich are better able to set the political agenda. When social inequality is high, this „advantage” is higher, hence voter turnout of the poor is lower Social norms (Lister 2007) –institutions (such as the welfare state) influence social norms, and hence individual behavior. In more equal societies (c.f. universalist welfare states) we should observe higher levels of political participation Reverse causation – class bias (Muller and Stratmann 2003, but see the logic of Meltzer and Richard 1981) –Upper classes (rich) participate more (Lijphart 1997). Lower voter turnout benefits upper classes, which leads to socially unjust policies and thus social inequality.

6 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn6 Possible explanations - positive Heterogeneity increases voter turnout (Zimmer 1976) –If the government performs redistributive actions, homogeneous groups with high political power can gain much (many homogeneous groups = heterogeneous society) Or alternatively: –If social tensions are high, relatively homogeneous groups of people (poor, elderly, students… etc.) are easier to mobilize (citation needed!) –„societies with deep divisions between social groups that are linked to specific parties are more likely to see high turnout than societies in which the decline of cleavage politics has reduced the importance of these links” (Franklin et al., 1992, citation from van der Eijk et al 1996).

7 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn7 Empirical evidence so far: Solt (2010): US Gubernatorial Elections –Individual dataset (~240 thousand, in 6 elections ) –post-tax Gini as income inequality All negative! Increasing inequality associates with decreasing voter turnout. Lister (2007) – Comparative Welfare States dataset: Macro data for 15 countries, Mueller and Stratmann (2003) – Macro level data for 76 countries,

8 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn8 Data 5 European elections (European Election Survey – PIREDEU database) Disadvantage: „second-order election” (Reif and Schmitt 1980) –turnout is lower than in national parliamentary elections, affected by the closeness of the next parliamentary election complusory voting and other „endogeneous” factors, like pro-European feeelings –and continuously falling (1979: 63%, 1989: 58,5%, 1999: 49,4%, 2009: 43%) but –it seems that „voters go to the polls because of a desire for political influence. Moreover there is no evidence of different processes at work in different countries.” (Franklin, van der Ejik and Oppenhuis 1996, p. 330) –and „The second-order election model implies that it is more likely that national elections will effect European elections than vice-versa, but in reality we find influences running in both directions.” (van der Eijk et al. 1996) Advantage: –similar everywhere (smaller institutional effects) must be PR system (~UK) can only be subdivided to regions if this does not affect the PR nature maximum 5% threshold –taken at the same time –no unexpected effects (e.g. early elections)

9 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn9 Data (individual level) European Election Study –phone interviews –after elections –approx individuals in 5 years (~3000 people/country until 1994; ~1000 in 1999, 2004 – 2009 is in preparation) –questions about participation and individual background (no income) – and much more (controls: age, sex, education, class, settlement, church, voted last parl. elect.)

10 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn10 Data (country level) National data –Next election in days/365 (wikipedia) –Compulsory voting (IDEA, –GDP/capita (Eurostat ) and Nationmaster (WDI database ) –Nationality – consider herself belong to other nationality (EES 2009) –Inequality (post-tax) Gini for each year (Eurostat - SILC) pre-tax Gini (Social Situation Observatory Annual Montioring Report 2009) –Gini indices of the distribution of equivalent household market income among the working age 2004 MDMI (Lancee - v. d. Werfhorts 2011) poverty - Population at risk of poverty or social exclusion 2005 (Eurostat) (Bulgaria 2006, Romania 2007)

11 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn11 Voter turnout - EES

12 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn12 Own calculations Descriptive

13 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn13 Own calculations Lowess smoothing

14 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn14 Methods Pooled logit with clustered standard errors two 2-step probits –fixed effect: 1st step: individual controls and country fixed marginal effects 2nd step: country controls and inequality indicators –separate country regressions 1st step: individual controls for each country and probabilities are predicted (for 42 year old middle class women, who live in mid-size settlement, with 12 years of education, and voted in parl. elections.) 2nd step: country controls and inequality indicators Multilevel mixed effect logit (no weighting)

15 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn15 Base model All variables here are included in each regression below. Country level variables

16 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn16 Pooled logit

17 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn17 Pooled logit – other indicators

18 2step probit

19 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn19

20 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn20

21 Quick tests of „negative” theories

22 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn22 Social norms universal welfare state -> more equal and higher turnout

23 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn23 Changing political agenda /Class bias I f inequality increases rich are more likely to vote than the poor

24 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn24 Conclusion „conventional” results for the base model (compulsory voting, voted last election… etc.) –so results for european „second-order” elections work as first- order elections but unconvetional results for the inequality dimesion: –Inequality and voter turnout associates positively or in a quadratic relation –Negative association is less likely to hold Social norms theory does not explain low levels of turnout for universal welfare states (e.g. Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands) Political agenda/ Class bias theories does not explain coparatively higher rising levels of turnout for the working class –Theories of positive association are yet to be confirmed

25 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn25 Questions Whether it is due to –the quality of the data –the „second-order” nature of the EU elections –the fact that aggregate data works differently than individual (ecological fallacy) –the fact that US inequality is higher (cf. Solt 2010) and very low inequality and very high inequality both predicts low turnout compared to the middle are all open to further research.

26 Thank you for your attention! Daniel Horn

27 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn27

28 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn28 Note: X=Y line

29 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn29

30 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn30

31 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn31 Country fixed effects

32 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn32 Separate country regressions

33 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn33 Multilevel logit

34 Inequality and turnoutDaniel Horn34 Changing political agenda /Class bias If inequality increases rich are more likely to vote than the poor


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