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Habit Formation and Political Behaviour: Evidence of Consuetude in Voter Turnout

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 October 2000

Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University
Eitan Berglas School of Economics, Tel Aviv University


The hypothesis is examined that casting a ballot in one election increases the voter's propensity to go to the polls in the future. Voter turnout patterns in the 1972–76 and 1992–96 American National Election Panel Surveys, as well as published experimental research, indicate that the effects of past voter turnout on current voting propensities are sizeable. Moreover, these effects are robust across a wide range of model specifications, including those that take into account the possibility of unobserved factors affecting both past and current turnout. We conclude by discussing the implications of consuetude for political and social behaviour.

Research Article
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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