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Corresponding Author:
Richard J. Cebula, Davis College of Business, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

Maggie Foley, Davis College of Business, Jacksonville University, Jacksonville, Florida, USA
Sriparna Ghosh, Department of Economics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA

Does Weak Macroeconomic Performance Affect Voter Turnout? An Analysis Accounting for the 'Joshua Generation Effect'

Volume 71 - Issue 1, February 2018
(pp. 9-28)
JEL classification: D72, R10
Keywords: Voter Turnout, Macroeconomic Performance


This empirical study applies an interpretation of the model of expressive voting to investigate whether higher unemployment rates as a measure of weak macroeconomic performance in U.S. induce an increase in voter participation of eligible voters in Presidential elections. The study period involves the four election-cycle years of 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. The Random Effects estimations imply that voter turnout among eligible voters is a decreasing function of the percent of the population that was Hispanic and an increasing function of the percent of the adult population with a high school diploma, the percent of the adult population with a four-year college degree, and election closeness between the two major-party Presidential candidates, as well as the “Joshua Generation Effect”. Voter turnout is also found to be an increasing function of the level of the state unemployment rate of the civilian labor. This outcome is consistent with the hypothesis stating that the number of eligible voters, who are concerned with the implications of excessively high unemployment, increases with the unemployment rate. The eigible voters consist of both employed eligible voters and unhappy unemployed eligible voters who go to the polls and cast their ballots.

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Institute for International Economics
of the Genoa Chamber of Commerce

Istituto di Economia Internazionale
Camera di Commercio di Genova
Via Garibaldi, 4 (III piano) - 16124 Genova (Italy)