Residential Concentration, Political Socialization, and Voter Turnout


Wendy K. Tam Cho is associate professor of political science, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208.

James G. Gimpel is professor of political science, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742.

Joshua J. Dyck is pre-doctoral fellow, Public Policy Institute of California, San Francisco, CA 94111.


Although many have hypothesized that neighborhoods and social context are important influences on the decision to vote, the data to study these phenomenon have often been inadequate. We examine a unique source of data, registered voter lists, from a rich variety of locations that allow us to tap into this social participation dynamic using a multilevel research design. We find that neighborhood context does have a socializing influence on voters, sometimes mobilizing them while at other times demobilizing them. Notably, this effect is separate from the effect of individual-level sociodemographic influences on participation and is manifest over and above these long- standing explanations.