Working Paper No. 596

Voter Turnout in Direct Democracy: Theory and Evidence

Published: June 18, 2003Pages: 23Keywords: Voting Behaviour; Referendum Types; Rational Choice JEL-codes: D72

Voter Turnout in Direct Democracy: Theory and Evidence Morten Søberg and Thomas P. Tangerås


We analyse voter turnout as a function of referendum types. An advisory referendum produces advice that a legislature may or may not take into account when choosing between two alternatives, whereas a binding referendum generates a decisive decision. In theory, voter turnout should be higher under binding than advisory referendums, higher in small than large electorates and higher in close than less close referendums. These predictions are corroborated by evidence from 230 local referendums in Norway. For example, a shift from an advisory to a semi-binding referendum leads to an average increase in voter turnout by 11.5 percentage points.

 

Elgar Companion to

Social Capital and Health

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Martin Ljunge, IFN, is the author of a chapter, "Trust promotes health: addressing reverse causality by studying children of immigrants", in a new book edited by Sherman Folland and Eric Nauenberg. The cutting edge of research is presented, covering the ever-expanding social capital field.

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