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Title: Economic Adversity, Gasoline Prices, and Voter Turnout
Authors: Viralam, Suneel
Advisors: Bhatt, Swati
Department: Economics
Class Year: 2016
Abstract: How does economic adversity influence voter turnout? Using two-way fixed effects, this paper investigates the effects of gasoline price fluctuations, unemployment, and income on voter turnout across seven United States presidential elections using state-level data and five using county-level data. In addition to their exogeneity, gasoline price fluctuations are used because they are directly relevant to citizens and are a departure from individual-level survey data, which has two unique limitations for voter turnout research. I find that a once cent increase in gasoline prices over the six months prior to the election is associated with a 0.07 to 0.08 percentage point increase in voter turnout, and a one percentage point increase in the unemployment rate at the county level is associated with a 0.3 percentage point increase in voter turnout. I find no significance with income. These results support the mobilization hypothesis, which argues that individuals who experience economic adversity become impassioned and are thus more likely to vote. The results are also consistent with the literature on ‘happiness economics,’ a field whose findings have not yet been discussed in voter turnout research.
Extent: 65 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Economics, 1927-2017

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