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Youth Enfranchisement, Political Responsiveness, and Education Expenditure: Evidence from the U.S.

16 March 2016
San Francesco - Via della Quarquonia 1 (Classroom 1 )
This paper studies the effect of the introduction of preregistration laws, which allow young citizens to register before being eligible to vote, on voter turnout and public education spending in the United States. Since preregistration laws have been introduced in different states at different times, these events have generated exogenous variation across space and time in the exposure of young voters to the new electoral reforms. Estimates exploiting a difference-in-difference regression design indicate that preregistration laws promote a sizeable de facto enfranchisement effect for young voters. Consistently with a political economic model, estimates also establish that preregistration determines an increase in government spending for higher education to the benefit of newly-enfranchised young voters. Our findings suggest large political responsiveness of education spending to shifts in voter turnout for the young population. We also document that the effect of preregistration is stronger among the poor young, who show a stronger response both at the political level, by increasing their voter participation, and at the economic level, by adapting their higher education enrolment decisions.
Bertocchi, Graziella - Università degli Studi di Modena e Reggio Emilia - Modena