The local roots of the participation gap: inequality and voter turnout

Publication type

Journal Article

Published in

Electoral Studies

Authors

John Bartle, Sarah Birch and Mariana Skirmuntt

Publication date

Summary

It is generally accepted that the rich are more likely to participate in politics than the poor. It is also generally accepted that the probability than an individual will participate in elections is influenced by the gap between the rich and the poor. There is little agreement, however, about whether inequality across time and space increases or decreases participation. In this paper we examine the impact of inequality across space. We suggest that the impact of inequality depends crucially on whether it is defined in terms of variations between geographical units (‘segregation’) or within geographical units (‘heterogeneity’). Evidence to support this argument is drawn from multi-level British data. Heterogeneity has a mildly positive effect on participation but this effect seems to be outweighed by the negative impact of segregation. The effect of segregation, moreover, is most pronounced among the poorer sections of the population, indicating that geographical isolation among the poor ('ghettoization') leads to lower turnout among these groups.

Volume and page numbers

48, 30-44

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.electstud.2017.05.004

ISSN

16

Subjects

Politics, Area Effects, Geography and Elections. Electoral Behaviour

Notes

Open Access; Open Access funded by Economic and Social Research Council; Under a Creative Commons license