(De-)Centralization and Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence from German Municipalities

A vast academic literature illustrates that voter turnout is affected by the institutional design of elections (e.g., compulsory voting, electoral system, postal or Sunday voting). In this article, we exploit a simple Downsian theoretical framework to argue that the institutional framework of public good provision – and, in particular, the distribution of political and administrative competences across government levels – likewise affects voters’ turnout decisions by influencing the expected net benefit of voting. Empirically, we exploit the institutional variation across German municipalities to test this proposition, and find supportive evidence.

15. June 2014

Authors Claus Michelsen Peter Bönisch

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