Compulsory voting, habit formation, and political participation


Journal Article

© 2018 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Can electoral institutions induce lasting changes in citizens' voting habits? We study the long-term and spillover effects of compulsory voting in the Swiss canton of Vaud (1900-1970) and find that this intervention increases turnout in federal referendums by 30 percentage points. However, despite its magnitude, the effect disappears quickly after voting is no longer compulsory. We find minor spillover effects on related forms of political participation that also vanish immediately after compulsory voting has been abolished. Overall, these results question habit formation arguments in the context of compulsory voting.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bechtel, MM; Hangartner, D; Schmid, L

Published Date

  • July 1, 2018

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 100 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 467 - 476

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1530-9142

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0034-6535

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1162/rest_a_00701

Citation Source

  • Scopus