Essays on the Economics of Voting
Bagwe, Gaurav R
This dissertation consists of two chapters on the economics of voting. In the first chapter, Courting Legal Change: Dynamics of Voting on the U.S. Supreme Court, I formulate and structurally estimate a dynamic game-theoretic model of decision-making on the U.S. Supreme Court that can infer the preferences of individual justices over ideology versus the weight they place on respecting precedent. This chapter is a contribution to the existing literature on the U.S. Supreme Court, which has traditionally used static models of voting to estimate the policy preferences of justices and has largely ignored the role of precedent, a dynamic component in justices' decision-making process that could help explain part of their voting behavior. I find that justices who experience a high cost of deviating from precedent are more ideological when their votes are likely to be pivotal. Taking the model to data, I find that precedent plays a sizable role in explaining justices' voting behaviors with significant heterogeneity across justices and legal issues. Moreover, incorporating precedent in the analysis changes the ideology estimates for about one-third of the justices in the sample. I use these estimates to simulate counterfactual outcomes for policy proposals, such as court-packing and a super-majority rule to change precedent.In the second chapter, Polling Place Location and the Costs of Voting, co-authored with Juan Margitic and Allison Stashko, we investigate the effect of distance to the polling place on voter turnout in primary and general elections in the U.S. To study this question, we acquire voter registration, voting history data, and polling locations for over 15 million voters from Pennsylvania and Georgia. We use a precinct border fixed-effect design to compare individuals who live close to either side of a precinct border and are plausibly similar along all dimensions relevant to turnout except their distance to the polling place. Our results show that a mile increase in the distance to polling location reduces turnout up to 1.22 p.p. on average. When exploring heterogeneity in the effect size, we find that older individuals and those individuals who take public transport to work respond more to a change in the distance to the polling place. Finally, we find evidence suggesting that the availability of no-excuse absentee voting can go a long way in substantially offsetting the effect of distance to the polling place on voter turnout.
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Dogan, Tayyar (Georgetown University, 2012)AN ASSESSMENT OF THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DETERMINANTS OF PROVINCIAL VOTING BEHAVIOR IN TURKEY