We are grateful to Chris Achen, Frans van Winden, and participants of the 2006 56th Political Studies Association conference in Reading, UK, the 2006 New Directions in Inequality and Stratification conference at Princeton University, and the 2006 European Public Choice Society conference in Turku, Finland, for their useful comments and suggestions. Permission to use the NCDS given by the ESRC Data Archive at Essex is gratefully acknowledged.
Does Voting History Matter? Analysing Persistence in Turnout
Article first published online: 24 DEC 2008
©2009, Midwest Political Science Association
American Journal of Political Science
Volume 53, Issue 1, pages 17–35, January 2009
How to Cite
Denny, K. and Doyle, O. (2009), Does Voting History Matter? Analysing Persistence in Turnout. American Journal of Political Science, 53: 17–35. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-5907.2008.00355.x
- Issue published online: 24 DEC 2008
- Article first published online: 24 DEC 2008
Individuals who vote in one election are more likely to vote in the next. Yet modelling the causal relationship between past and current voting decisions is intrinsically difficult, as this positive association can exist due to habit formation or unobserved heterogeneity. This article overcomes this problem using longitudinal data from the British National Child Development Study (NCDS) to examine voter turnout across three elections. It distinguishes between unobserved heterogeneity caused by fixed individual characteristics and the initial conditions problem, which occurs when voting behavior in a previous, but unobserved, period influences current voting behavior. It finds that, controlling for fixed effects, unobserved heterogeneity has little impact on the estimated degree of habit in voter turnout; however, failing to control for initial conditions reduces the estimate by a half. The results imply that voting in one election increases the probability of voting in a subsequent election by 13%.