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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 5 No. 4 (October 2013)

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Employment, Wages, and Voter Turnout

Article Citation

Charles, Kerwin Kofi, and Melvin Stephens. 2013. "Employment, Wages, and Voter Turnout." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(4): 111-43.

DOI: 10.1257/app.5.4.111

Abstract

Using county-level data across several decades, and various OLS and TSLS models, we find that higher local wages and employment lower turnout in elections for governor, senator, US Congress and state House of Representatives, but have no effect on presidential turnout. We also find that the share of people voting in one election but not in another on the same ballot increases as local labor market conditions improve. We argue that these results are most consistent with information-based models of voting, and use individual level panel data to show that increased employment lowers media usage and political knowledge.

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Authors

Charles, Kerwin Kofi (U Chicago)
Stephens, Melvin Jr. (U MI)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
D83: Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief
J22: Time Allocation and Labor Supply
J31: Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
R23: Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics: Regional Migration; Regional Labor Markets; Population; Neighborhood Characteristics

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