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The Effect of a Booming Local Economy in Early Childhood on the Propensity to Vote: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

  • Henning Finseraas


Growing up in a booming local economy can influence turnout in adulthood because family income influences the realization of cognitive abilities, investments in human capital and socio-economic status. Exploiting the discovery of oil outside the Norwegian county of Rogaland, this article identifies cohorts that experienced a shock in family income in childhood. This shock enables the effect of economic resources in childhood to be isolated from other characteristics of parents, such as their education level and personality traits. The study uses a differences-in-differences approach and finds that the affected cohorts are about 4 percentage points more likely to vote. The results suggest that potential mechanisms in addition to family income are changes in local public spending and in peers’ political behaviour.



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Institute for Social Research (e-mail: I would like to thank Lars Gulbrandsen and Atle Hennum Haugsgjerd for help with data collection, and Bernt Aardal, Erling Barth, Johannes Bergh, Robert S. Erikson, Atle Hennum Haugsgjerd, Niklas Jakobsson, Rune Karlsen, Andreas Kotsadam, Axel West Pedersen, Jo Saglie, Øyvind Bugge Solheim, Kevin Young, the audience at the Friday Research Seminar at Trinity College Dublin, and anonymous reviewers for comments and suggestions. Grant number 199836 (Research Council of Norway) is acknowledged. Part of the data used in this article as provided, prepared and made available by the Norwegian Social Science Data Service (NSD). NSD is not responsible for the analyses/interpretation of data presented here. Data replication sets are available at and online appendices are available at



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Finseraas supplementary material
Tables A.1-A.4 and Figures A.1-A.2

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The Effect of a Booming Local Economy in Early Childhood on the Propensity to Vote: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

  • Henning Finseraas


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