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The Masks of the Political God by Luca Ozzano

If I do not feel Good, I do not Vote: The Effect of the Well-Being of Citizens, both Subjective and Real, on Turnout

Electoral Behaviour
Voting Behaviour
Daniel Stockemer
University of Ottawa
Daniel Stockemer
University of Ottawa

Health care policy has become an important policy field. This can be seen in ever expanding health care budgets, increasing numbers of physical and, even more so, mental illnesses, and enhanced professional efforts to create a “healthy” work environment. But how do those individuals, who are physically or mentally disabled or who subjectively feel that they are of poor health behave politically? This study investigates the influence of poor health, both real and perceived, on individuals’ propensity to vote in general elections. Using data from the last six waves of the European Social Survey from all participating European countries, I find that poor subjective health rather than officially recognized disabilities decreases somebody’s likelihood to vote. The subjective influence of this effect is large. Holding standard predictors of somebody’s likelihood to cast one’s ballot constant, the model predicts that somebody, who perceives to be of poor health, has a 20 percentage points lower likelihood to vote than somebody who feels good. Given that the perceived well-being of citizens has decreased over the past decades, this study also provides preliminary evidence that part of the turnout decline that many western countries have experienced over the past decades might be due the fact that more and more individuals do not feel physically well, any more.
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