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The European Union and Beyond

Gender, Education, and Turnout: What is the Effect of Compulsory Voting? Evidence from a Regression Discontinuity Design

Comparative Politics
Political Participation
Voting Behaviour
Karina Cendon Boveda
University of Oxford
Karina Cendon Boveda
University of Oxford

As voting rates have declined in several democracies, concern about an exacerbation of inequality in electoral participation has been voiced in certain quarters. Compulsory voting (CV) has often been suggested as a solution to both low and unequal turnout.

Whereas the empirical literature has demonstrated that mandatory voting has a strong positive impact on turnout levels, the jury is still out as to whether it reduces biases in electoral participation. I herein address this question by means of a regression discontinuity design (RDD) that takes advantage of a feature of CV laws that is present in some countries: the fact that poll attendance is optional for citizens above a certain age.

In this paper I specifically seek to examine the impact of mandatory voting on gender inequality in electoral participation. To this end, I have implemented a RDD on an original dataset that contains individual-level information from two Latin American countries.

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