Fiscal rules and electoral turnout

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A growing literature has argued that electoral turnout decreases the more government policy constrained by economic and institutional factors. This paper investigates whether a certain type of policy constraint, fiscal rules, lowers turnout. Since fiscal rules set limits for government fiscal policy, they should lower the incentive for citizens to participate electorally. However, using parliamentary turnout data in a large panel of democratic countries, little robust evidence is found in favor of fiscal rules having a depressing effect on electoral turnout. Analysis of European individual-level data also suggests that national fiscal rules do not affect inequality in electoral turnout between income groups either. Difference-in-discontinuity evidence from Italian municipalities further suggests that the results are causally identified.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)259-274
Publication statusPublished - 3. Apr 2021


  • Causal inference
  • electoral turnout
  • fiscal rules
  • policy constraints


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