The Effect of Dispersion of Political Authority on Turnout: Causal Evidence from Norway
This paper assesses the causal effect of dispersion of political authority on turnout. It is heavily disputed in the turnout literature whether the dispersion of power away from the legislature, in the form of the direct elections of an additional political body, decreases voter turnout, since the legislature becomes less important politically. I use the introduction of direct election of mayors in a number of Norwegian municipalities between 1999 and 2007 to test this claim. Employing a difference-in-difference design, and a fixed-effects OLS regression model on panel data, I do not find robust evidence in favor of the dispersion hypothesis. The reform does not seem to have any causal effect on voter turnout in the reform period for the municipalities introducing the reform.
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