DP13898 How Effective Are Monetary Incentives to Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Policy

Author(s): Mariella Gonzales, Gianmarco León-Ciliotta, Luis Martinez
Publication Date: July 2019
Keyword(s): compulsory voting, External Validity, Informational frictions, Peru, voter registration, Voter turnout
JEL(s): D72, D78, D83, K42
Programme Areas: Public Economics, Development Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13898

We combine two natural experiments, multiple empirical strategies and administrative data to study voters' response to marginal changes to the fi ne for electoral abstention in Peru. A smaller fi ne leads to a robust decrease in voter turnout. However, the drop in turnout caused by a full fi ne reduction is less than 20% the size of that caused by an exemption from compulsory voting, indicating the predominance of the non-monetary incentives provided by the mandate to vote. Additionally, almost 90% of the votes generated by a marginally larger fi ne are blank or invalid, lending support to the hypothesis of rational abstention. Higher demand for information and larger long-run eff ects following an adjustment to the value of the fine point to the existence of informational frictions that limit adaptation to institutional changes.