Public Sector Employment and Voter Turnout
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionAmerican Political Science Review. 2021, . https://doi.org/10.1017/S000305542100099X
Does working in the public rather than the private sector have a causal effect on electoral participation? Extant evidence using cross-sectional survey data remains unpersuasive due to data limitations and concerns posed by preference-based job selection. We address these challenges using population-wide individual-level register data on voter turnout covering four Norwegian local and national elections between 2013 and 2019. We identify causal effects by tracking the same individuals over time during (a) shifts between private- and public-sector employment, (b) relocations between municipalities, and (c) shifts into retirement. We find that local public-sector employees display 1–3 percentage points higher voter turnout compared with private-sector employees. These effects arise particularly when working in their residential municipality, but they largely dissipate upon retirement.