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Voter turnout and intergenerational redistribution

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Publication details

JournalJournal of comparative economics
DateAccepted/In press - 13 Jul 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 9 Oct 2020
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)1-23
Early online date9/10/20
Original languageEnglish


Electoral reforms that lead to reduced turnout modify the composition of the electorate, potentially overrepresenting specific interests in policy implementation. Intergenerational redistribution tilts in favor of the elderly when they are sufficiently numerous, but in favor of the young rich otherwise. We exploit a natural experiment provided by the repeal of compulsory voting in Austrian parliamentary elections to study how exogenous turnout decline affects intergenerational redistribution through pro-young public education spending in Austrian municipalities. Empirically, education spending falls when the proportion of elderly voters exceeds 21% of the electorate, but rises when the proportion of elderly voters is below this threshold.

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© 2020 Association for Comparative Economic Studies. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

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