Progetti Finanziati

Ricerca Progetti Finanziati


In all modern states a central activity of governments is the allocation of the public budget in response to the demands from socio-economic groups. The government's choice of how much of public resources to redistribute and of which socio-economic groups to target is embedded in the political system. The political economy literature has developed the analysis of the role of electoral mechanisms for the determination of the size of government spending and the extent of redistribution. The main prediction of this literature is that increased political influence of a group of voters leads to the implementation of policies targeting their needs and aspirations. Several contributions following Acemoglu and Robinson (2000) have estabilished that conflict between rich and poor lies at the heart of the historical extension of the voting franchise and the consequent expansion of the welfare state. Surprisingly, the case of conflict arising among different age groups, and its implications for political participation and government spending, has received less attention.The current research project aims at providing evidence on how improving the political participation of youth voters can advance policies targeting their needs and aspirations. It estimates the effects of the preregistration law, an electoral provision introduced by the U.S. individual states at the aim of encouraging civic engagement among young citizens from an early stage of life, in reducing an important obstacle to political participation, i.e., the cost of operating ballots. The hypothesis to test is that the U.S. states that have adopted preregistration have experienced a large de facto enfranchisement of youth voters, which has led to an increase of public education expenditure and other pro-youth public policies. While the current project addresses issues similar to the literature on democratization and de jure enfranchisement, it does so focusing on improvements in participation within a context where universal suffrage is already established.To shed light on the potential impact of the political participation of youth voters, we start by analysing a simple political economy model á la Lancia and Russo (2016). The basic structure is that of a world populated by two groups of individuals: the young and the old. In addition to their age, agents differ in their income. Tax rate, public education, and pension are determined through repeated elections. An intergenerational conflict then arises over the financing and allocation of the public budget. We depart from Lancia and Russo (2016)’s setup by adding electoral frictions. We assume that the voters of the two age groups differ in their voting cost. Predictions from this model are tested following a two-step econometric procedure. We first estimate the electoral effects of preregistration exploiting a difference-in difference regression method. We use the Current Population Survey (CPS) to account for the variation both across the U.S. states and over time in order to test whether there has been an increase in youth voter turnout in states which have adopted preregistration compared to states which have not. We then argue that the de facto enfranchisement of the youth citizens did indeed affect fiscal policies in a manner consistent with political economy theories of redistribution. We focus on state government spending and we use Annual financial data on activity of local and state governments provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. We expect that the U.S. states that have adopted preregistration have raised public education expenditure and other pro-youth public policies. The magnitude of this increase is expected to be higher in those states where the political competition was likely to be greater and the voters were more likely to be younger, poorer, and more educated.

StrutturaDipartimento di Scienze Economiche e Statistiche/DISES
Tipo di finanziamentoFondi dell'ateneo
FinanziatoriUniversità  degli Studi di SALERNO
Importo2.535,00 euro
Periodo20 Novembre 2017 - 20 Novembre 2020
Proroga20 febbraio 2021
Gruppo di RicercaLANCIA Francesco (Coordinatore Progetto)