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ECPR Standing Group on the European Union 10th Biennial Conference LUISS, Rome

Electoral Participation and Health: The Role played by Stress, Sleep and Chronic Illness

Electoral Behaviour
Jérôme Couture
Department of Political Science, Université Laval
Jérôme Couture
Department of Political Science, Université Laval
Sandra Breux

We know there is a connection between a person’s self-rated state of health and their participation in elections. We also know that self-rated health affects electoral participation differently depending on the level of government. What we don’t clearly understand however, is which types of illness negatively influence electoral behaviour. Based on the 2008 Canadian Social Survey (n = 18,061), we will be testing the connection between 25 different types of health problem and electoral participation for the three levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal). Analysis shows that people who have difficulty seeing, hearing and communicating vote less than other electors—across all levels of government. Additionally, our results also show that stress levels follow a curvilinear relationship similar to the Yerkes–Dodson law. A higher or lower stress level is associated with weaker electoral participation whereas a moderate stress levels seem to encourage electoral participation. When we looked into the effect that quality of sleep and the presence of back pain had on electoral participation, a differential effect appeared according to the level of government. Serious medical conditions such as cancer, CVA, COPD and heart disease however appear to have no affect on electoral participation at all. The same also seems to be true of less serious conditions such as asthma, arthritis, allergy, migraine or high blood pressure as well as problems related to mental health like anxiety or mood disorder. Finally, we also verify the effect of social capital as a mediating factor between health and electoral participation.
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