Voting Behaviour in the United Kingdom – Evidence from the European Social Survey 2012

My paper Applied Econometrics, which I am taking at Auckland University of Technology whilst being on student exchange, included a major study of Voting Behaviour across European countries. The assignment brief was as follows:

Using data from the 2012 European Social Survey write a research report on the factors associated with an individual’s likelihood to vote.

Each student could pick one of the European countries. I decided to focus on the UK and was pleased to conduct empirical work in STATA as a part of university. In particular, the goal of the assignment was to become proficient in the use of econometric techniques when dealing with a categorical variable. In this case it was voter turnout where people decided to vote (Y=1) or decided to abstain (Y=0). We were given the choice of either using a Logit or a Probit model. Before defining our own model it was recommended to carry out a literature review on the determinants of voting behaviour in order to include all significant variables that are commonly used. Thereafter the study should include an overview on the chosen model and its methodology as well as a discussion of the empirical results. In the discussion the focus should be on testing the results for their trustworthiness and any bias. While I did not correct for heteroskedasticity with the use of robust standard errors (which is the main criticism in my feedback), I tested for goodness of fit, model misspecification errors, multicollinearity and influential observations. The study should conclude with a brief summary of the main findings.

Overall I am really proud of my very first own ‘study’. I put an immense amount of effort into it in order to make my work perfect and flawless. This is also why I decided to publish my work on my blog. In addition, I hope to be able to use it as writing sample when applying for Economics graduate school (besides my bachelor’s thesis).

In retrospective, I have learned a lot over the course of my Applied Econometrics paper and I am very thankful that my home university let me choose my fourth paper freely and that, in turn, Auckland University of Technology approved my choice of Applied Econometrics as elective. I knew that it would be a challenging paper but it has been a very rewarding experience throughout.

I hope that you enjoy reading my work! The abstract is included below and complete study is available from here.

Jasse


Voting Behaviour in the United Kingdom: Evidence from the European Social Survey 2012

Abstract

Voting is often taken as an indicator for the state of a country’s democratic political system. The study therefore examines voting behaviour in the United Kingdom using data from the European Social Survey 6.0 conducted in 2012. It develops a model based on rational voter theory as well as sociological theories discussed in the literature while controlling for demographic factors. Dimensions included in the sociological approach of the model are deprivation, social capital and civic voluntarism.

The study concludes that British women are significantly more likely to vote than men after controlling for other factors. Other significant demographic factors are family status and age. Age does not exhibit a curvilinear pattern due to life-cycle effects. The deprivation dimension (ethnicity and immigration status) does not have a significant influence in the study while the social capital dimension does turn out to be significant. Trade union membership, religious denomination (Roman Catholic and Anglican) and a composite trust variable measuring one’s trust in others have a significant positive effect on voter turnout in the UK. Civic voluntarism is the most influential dimension for determining participation in the British general elections. Medium and low income households are significantly less likely to vote, ceteris paribus. In the model only tertiary education is a significant positive predictor compared to respondents with primary education only. There is no significant difference between primary and secondary education. Further vocational education does become significant once controlling for influential observations. Political interest and partisanship remain two of the most significant predictors of voting behaviour at the margin. The study concludes that there is a significant relationship between voter mobilisation and a person’s wealth and non-material endowment. This is of concern to ensure representative policies and civic engagement in the future and might also explain recent turnout declines.  A limitation of the study is the low explanatory power of the overall model even if variables are significant at the margin. This is taken as evidence for rational voter theory while being more problematic for sociological approaches.


Droege, J. (2016). Voting Behaviour in the UK: Evidence from the European Social Survey 2012. Auckland University of Technology, Auckland. Retrieved from: https://theaspiringeconomist.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/voting-behaviour-in-the-united-kingdom.pdf

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