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## Econ.biu.ac.il

Voter Turnout and Fiscal Policy
Raphael Godefroy and Emeric Henry
Though a large literature on causes of voter turnout has flour-
ished, there is scant evidence on consequences of turnout on policiesimplemented in practice. Using data on French municipalities, andinstrumental variables for turnout based on rainfall and influenza in-cidence, we estimate that a 1 percent increase in turnout decreasesthe municipal budget by more than 2 percent. This effect is medi-ated by a decrease in sales and purchases of physical assets. Witha model of electoral competition, we show that a party with a lowbudget platform has a numerical advantage causing its win whenturnout is high.

Over the last 40 years, in most Western democracies, voter turnout - i.e.

the percentage of registered voters who cast a ballot in an election - has
consistently declined. For instance, in French municipal elections in 1965,
78.2 percent of registered individuals voted in the first round, while in 2008
this figure dropped to 66.5 percenA low level of electoral participation
is often considered a worrying sign for the health of a democracy. Yet,
although a large body of empirical studies has identified many determinants
∗Department of Economics, Universite de Montreal, 3150 rue Jean-Brillant, Montreal,
(QC) H3T 1N8, Canada, raphael.godefroy@umontreal.ca, and Sciences Po, Departmentof Economics, 28 rue des Saint Peres, 75007 Paris, France, emeric.henry@sciences-po.fr.

1The corresponding turnout figures for US presidential elections are 61.9 in 1964 and
57.37 in 2008 and the drop is much larger for midterm elections. For more data, seeBlais 2000.

of variations in voter turnout, little is known on its consequences. The aim
of this paper is to study the effect of turnout on policies implemented after
an election. Using data on French municipalities, our main finding is that
increased voter turnout decreases both public revenues and expenditures.

This effect is large, with an elasticity in the order of -2.

This result means that, on average, the marginal voter favors lower
spending. It is in contrast with what surveys of frequent and marginal vot-
ers suggest. Since marginal voters tend to be poorer than frequent voters,
the former should prefer higher public expenditures, and higher turnout
should give an advantage to fiscally liberal Our contribution
here is to provide a direct estimation of the marginal voter's fiscal prefer-
ences, and our results, surprising in the light of the survey evidence, are
consistent with the conclusions of a simple model of political competition.

Empirically, the identification of a causal impact of voter turnout poses
two challenges. First, the rules that govern the elections of public represen-
tatives, that set their collective decision procedures, and that delimit their
power, differ across nations, and even across infra-national pThis
heterogeneity impedes the comparison of policies across governments and
requires controlling for a wide range of variables in order to test the impact
of turnout on policies.

To address this first challenge, we take advantage of two features of
French municipalities: their institutional homogeneity and their number.

There are around 36,000 municipalities in France, all subject to the same
national law that sets the election date and election rules, as well as the
number of municipal councilmen and their rights and duties.

election, municipal residents vote to elect municipal councilmen who will
be in charge of setting the municipal budget for a term that lasts six or seven
2This argument is raised in several papers that focus on whether voter turnout advan-
tages Democratic or Republican candidates. These papers disagree on whether frequentand marginal voters differ enough for higher turnout to have an impact on electoraloutcomes. See the seminal paper by Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980.

3Such variety characterizes US municipalities, for instance, where municipal govern-
ment can take the form of either mayor-council or council-manager government, munic-ipal and county governments may exist side-by-side, or in other configurations.

years. For this study, we use longitudinal data that contains information on
fiscal policy, and on voter turnout in municipal elections. Our data covers
more than 90 percent of all French municipalities, and spans the years 1998
to 2012. Two municipal elections took place over this period: one in March
2001, the other in March 2008.

The second challenge is that turnout is endogenous. It is potentially
correlated with unobservable characteristics of a town that are correlated
with municipal fiscal policy, such as voters' expectations of projects that
each candidate would implement if elected. To overcome this challenge, we
propose two instrumental variables for voter turnout. The first instrument
is the log of the number of new patients with clinical symptoms of the flu
who visit a general practitioner in the month preceding the elections (i.e.

the log of flu incidence). We find that a larger flu incidence decreases voter
turnout; sick people tend not to vote. The second instrument is the amount
of rainfall in the afternoon of election day. We estimate that more rainfall
increases voter participation. This latter result suggests, bearing in mind
that French elections always take place on a Sunday, that the opportunity
cost of voting is mostly the value of activities that depend on the weather,
such as outdoor activities.

Our identification assumption is that, controlling for observable munici-
pal characteristics, our instruments are uncorrelated with the unobservable
factors that affect the trend of the fiscal outcomes we examine. To cap-
ture potential effects of the trend in flu or weather variables, we control
for many observable municipal factors, including geographical and meteo-
rological variables and for the value of the instrument in preceding years.

In addition, we note that, when we restrict our sample to observations
covering the years before a municipal election year, we find no significant
correlation between changes in any fiscal outcome, and the value of any
instrumental variable measured at the time of the following election.

Our first main result establishes that a 1 percent increase in turnout
decreases municipal revenues by around 2 percent. This represents, for
a one percent increase in turnout, an average decrease of 24.5 euros per
capita per year. As mentioned above, the sign and the order of magnitude
of the estimated coefficient is the same for both election years, and for both
instrumental variables, provided they are strong enough.

These estimates can also be used to derive estimates of voting costs.

Indeed, the main result can be expressed differently: an additional vote
decreases the yearly budget by 3.17 euros, on average. Thus, the maximum
expected benefit from voting of the marginal voter is 3.17 euros per year
for 7 years, the length of a term, since in the worst-case scenario the voter
would not have benefited at all from this extra spending. This figure is an
upper bound on voting costs, net of non financial benefits such as a warm
glow from performing one's civic duty.

Our second main result is that this aggregate effect is due largely to
sales and purchases of municipal assets, which are almost entirely physical
assets (e.g. public buildings). An increase in turnout induces a decrease
in both sales and purchases of these assets. The effect can be very large:
a 1 percent increase in turnout may increase such sales by more than 5
percent, and decrease purchases of these assets by more than 8 percent. In
addition, we find that turnout has little impact on debt and no impact on
taxes. Marginal voters are more opposed than motivated voters to changes
in the public assets owned by the municipality.

We do not claim that we have identified universal or permanent predic-
tors of voter turnout. In fact, we find that the strength of either instrument
varies across elections: rainfall only significantly affects turnout in 2001, flu
incidence only significantly affects turnout in 2008. However, it is remark-
able that all estimations of the impact of voter turnout on a given fiscal
outcome yield very similar results, regardless of the instrument we use or
the election year we consider, and that this estimation is significant when-
ever the impact of the instrument on voter turnout is significant.

What can explain these systematic results? To address this question,
we estimate the effect of voter turnout on electoral outcomes. We find that
it has no significant impact on observable characteristics of the elected
candidates or party, such as the probability that the incumbent mayor
is reelected, or that a left or right-wing party wins a majority of seats
in the municipal council. However, candidates or parties may also differ
in unobservable ways. Of particular importance would be the details of
parties' electoral platforms, such as the nature of the new public goods
that the municipality would provide if they win the elections and the budget
required to buy these new public goods.

Our interpretation of the main results relies on a new model of electoral
competition in which two parties, which value two different public goods,
compete on the amount of the good to provide. Municipal residents are
divided into two groups, a group that values the good valued by one party,
and another group that values the good of the other party. This setup
is consistent with our finding that most of the effects are on sales and
purchases of municipal assets. In our model, residents face random voting
costs, drawn on the day of the election, and vote if the difference in utility
between the two platforms is higher than the voting cost.

Our main assumption is that group members may differ in their degree
of fiscal conservatism. In other words, raising municipal revenues imposes
different costs across residents - even among residents who value the same
public good - whether these revenues are raised through taxes, the sale of
current assets, or borrowing.

The core of our explanation relies on the following argument. If one
party proposes a smaller budget than the other, it could attract the votes of
residents who prefer the good it would invest in to the good the other would
invest in, as well as the votes of residents who prefer the good promoted by
the other party, but who find that party's budget too high. Everything else
equal, the party with the smaller budget thus has a numerical advantage.

The party with the higher budget could attract only the votes of residents
who prefer the good it promotes and do not find its budget too high.

Given this disadvantage, why would a party run on a bigger platform?
Although the party with the larger budget has fewer supporters, these
supporters may have a higher participation level than the supporters of
the other party, either because they are intrinsically more motivated, or
because they face smaller voting costs than the rest of the population. The
party with the smaller budget is thus more likely to win when voting costs
are low (i.e. turnout is high), and the other party is more likely to win if
voting costs are high (i.e. turnout is low). In fact, we show that if parties
have different budgets, this is the only possible configuration.

Our interpretation relies on general assumptions on the heterogeneity
of preferences among voters, not on specific features of French institutions.

Our work thus highlights the fact that, in any institutional context, mea-
sures to increase turnout, such as information campaigns or reforms facili-
tating voter registration - policies that affect marginal voters - can have a
major impact on public policy, even if they are independent of the institu-
tional context, or do not target a specific population.

Related Literature. A large empirical literature has aimed at identi-
fying determinants of turnout. Blais 2001 reviews some of the most often
cited, and finds that for a large part, variations in turnout remain unex-
plained. A recent literature has proposed and estimated new factors, such
as candidates' ethnicity (Washington 2006), access to media (Stromberg
2004, Gentzkow 2006, Enikolopov, Petrova and Zhuravskaya 2011), infor-
mation on candidates (Banerjee et al. 2010) or voting technology (Card and
Moretti 2007, Fujiwara 2010). None of this papers links turnout and pol-
icy, except for Fujiwara 2010, who finds that an increase in turnout caused
by a technological change that affected largely poor citizens has increased
health care spending.

Fujiwara 2010 is related to a different group of papers, that studies the
effect of the extension of voting rights, such as Husted and Kenny 1997,
Lott and Kenny 1999, Miller 2009. These papers find that enfranchisement
caused an increase in welfare spending, especially in public health policies.

Although related, our work differs substantially from these studies. First,
these studies usually cannot distinguish the effect of the change in the size
of the eligible population from the actual impact of voter turnout (that
is voters relative to registered individuals) itself. Then, the determinants
studied in these papers could have modified the number of voters in a way
that politicians could anticipate, and, in some cases, encouraged by sup-
porting enfranchisement laws. Last, any political change affecting turnout
may stem from other political or cultural changes that are unobserved, and
these latter changes could affect subsequent policies more than changes in
turnout. Our focus is different here, since we are interested in variations of
voter turnout for a given registered population that cannot be anticipated
more than a few weeks before the elections, and independent of political
In political science, several papers use surveys of frequent and marginal
voters to estimate the effect of turnout on the probability that Democrat
or Republican candidates win (Wolfinger and Rosenstone 1980, Leighley J.

and J. Nagler 2007). Two recent papers have studied the direct impact of
turnout on this probability. Gomez et al. 2007 show that lower turnout
increases the Republican party's vote share in national elections. Hansford
and Gomez 2010, who also use rainfall as an instrument, confirm this finding
and also show that an increase in turnout decreases the vote share of the
incumbent. None of these papers directly tests the impact of voter turnout
on implemented policies.

Several empirical papers build on the theoretical literature on rational
turnout (see survey by Dhillon and Peralta 2002 and Feddersen 2004). Most
models in the game theoretic branch of the literature assume that potential
voters make a rational decision by comparing their cost of voting to their
probability of being pivotal in the election, conditional on the other vot-
ers' strategies. This leads to the paradox of voting in large elections since
the probability of changing the outcome becomes negligible. To judge how
large this paradox is, we need to have a rough idea of voting costs, which
is a byproduct of our results. Blais et al. 2011 run an experiment com-
paring first past the post and proportional elections. They show that the
consideration of being pivotal plays a larger role in proportional elections
and argue that this is due to the fact that the calculation of probability
here is more involved.

A growing theoretical literature examines whether compulsory voting
is welfare enhancing. Compulsory voting is often suggested as a way of
increasing turnout, and has been implemented in several countries. Yet,
evidence from simulations (Citrin et al.

2003), suggests that introduc-
ing mandatory voting might have little impact on implemented policies.

orgers 2004 shows that, in a population where the expected number of
supporters for the two candidates is equal, compulsory voting is welfare
reducing. Krasa and Polborn 2009 point out that the result depends on
the assumption that the general electorate is equally split. If this is not
the case, mandatory voting is welfare improving. Note that both papers
consider mandatory voting as an exogenous decrease in the cost of voting,
which corresponds exactly to the our identification assumption on the ef-
fect of rainfall or flu incidence. Aldashev 2013 examines a particular type
of social inefficiency, the impact of turnout on rents extracted by elected
officials. He shows that the direction of the effect critically depends on the
source of the variation in turnout.

Finally, some empirical papers address the effect of political variables
on local public finances. Enikolopov and Zhuravskaya 2007 find that the
effect of decentralization in Russia critically depends on whether local rep-
resentatives are elected or appointed. Using data on local governments
in Sweden, Pettersson-Lidbom and Tyrefors 2011 find that representative
democracy increased both political participation and size of government,
relative to direct democracy. In the US, Ferreira and Gyourko 2009 show
that partisanship, i.e the fact that the mayor belongs to the Democratic or
the Republican party, does not have an impact on policy outcomes (size of
government, tax rates) at the municipal level in US cities.

The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. In Section we present
the data and institutional background. In Section we expose our identi-
fication strategy. We present our results in Section and interpret them
in the context of a model of electoral competition in Section All tables
are in Section and Appendix
Institutional Background and Data on French
Institutional Background. Since the French Revolution, in 1789, the
French territory has been divided in municipalities, the smallest adminis-
trative unit in the country. France now counts more than 36,000 munic-
The rules that govern municipal elections, and the rights and
duties of municipal councilmen, are set in national law, and apply uniformly
across the French territory
Municipal councilmen are elected through direct universal suffrage. Af-
ter the election, councilmen elect a mayor among themselves, who will be
the agenda setter for the municipal term. In practice, when a majority of
councilmen are affiliated to a given party, the leader of this party is elected
as mayor. Mayors are responsible for the enforcement of decisions passed
at the council. A mayor has no extra decision power, however, since ev-
ery decision taken by a council must be approved by a simple majority of
By law, candidates must run in parties - which can be local parties
of candidates running behind a common leader, or under a common local
platform, with no affiliation to a national party - in municipalities with
more than 3500 residents, and must run individually in the other ones.

Even in these latter municipalities though, candidates are usually affiliated
to a local party, and two or three parties partition the set of all candidates.

Elections are held on the same days nationwide, always on a Sunday,
usually in March. Any adult above 18, French or EU national, whose main
residence is in the municipality, can register to vote. The number of coun-
cilmen, and other rules of the electoral system of a municipality, depend
4as of January 1st 20125Our sample contains no data on the roughly 500 municipalities located in Corsica
or in overseas territories and departments, some of which are governed by different lawsthan the rest of France.

on the number of residents. For all municipalities, municipal elections may
comprise two rounds, held a week apart. Provided that more than 25 per-
cent registered voters cast a ballot, any candidate (or party) who obtains a
number of votes larger than half the size of voter turnout in the first round
is elected directly. We give more details on election rules in Appendix
Since the conditions of the second round (the number of council seats
left to be filled, the identity of the candidates running, etc.) result from the
outcome of the first round, we focus exclusively on the impact of turnout
in the first round. The two most recent municipal elections took place on
Sunday, March 11th, 2001 and on Sunday, March 9th, The last elec-
tion before 2001 took place in 1995, and the first election after 2008 will
be organized in 2014. Our data span the years 1998 to 2012, so that they
cover part or all of the three terms 1995-2001, 2002-2008 and 2009-2014.

For simplicity, in the rest of the paper, we will refer to the three periods
1998-2001, 2002-2008 and 2009-2012 as municipal terms.

Data on municipal elections. We obtained data on municipal elections
from the French Ministry of Home Affairs, which has kept records on every
election since 2001 only. These data contain information on the number
of registered individuals and electoral participation for the 2001 and 2008
municipal elections. They also contain some information on the ideologi-
cal affiliation (left-wing, right-wing, or unknown) of elected councilmen in
2001, and in 2008. In addition, for a substantial number of municipali-
ties, we obtained the names of incumbent mayors from an online unofficial
We had no data on turnout for around 1000 municipalities, so
that our sample contains around 35,000 municipalities.

Data on municipal finances. Data on municipal finances are available
from the French Ministry of Finances, for the period For every
6These are the days of the first rounds, the second rounds took place on Sunday,
March 18th, 2001 and on Sunday, March, 16th, 2008 respectively.

7The source is the website FranceGenWeb http://www.francegenweb.org/mairesgenweb/8Data
//www.colloc.bercy.gouv.f r/. We also obtained detailed data for the period 1998-2001,
year of the period studied, and for almost every municipality, we observe
the amount raised through each of the following sources of municipal rev-
enues: local taxes, rents from its assets, asset sales and use of savings (we
cannot distinguish these two sources), received subsidies, and loans. There
is no other source of revenues, so that the sum of these amounts is the total
amount of municipal revenues, by definition.

Local taxes consist primarily of ownership and residence taxes. The
rates of these taxes are set by municipal councils, but must remain within
certain bounds defined in the national law. Municipal assets are physical
assets, which can be rented or sold at the market price. Municipal subsidies
comprise unconditional subsidies and conditional subsidies. Unconditional
subsidies are distributed every year, from the national government to the
municipalities, according to a formula set in the national law that integrates
the number of residents, the surface of the municipality, and other social
and economic or geographic factors, irrespective of the nature of munici-
pal fiscal decisions. Conditional subsidies underwrite physical assets, and
may be granted by any government,national or local, to a municipality.

There are several different types of conditional subsidies, granted on vary-
ing conditions, yet most of conditional subsidies are automatic refunds on
value-added taxes paid by the municipality when it acquires some assets.

We also observe the amount spent in each of the following expense
items, for almost every municipality: personnel expenditure, maintenance
expenditure, asset purchases, annuities, and contributions. Asset purchases
exclude savings here, annuities are the sum of reimbursement of capital
and payment of installments, and contributions are subsidies a municipal-
which we used to interpolate the content of the aggregated data of the rest of the period.

Except for the years 1998 to 2001, these data lack detailed information on a few sourcesof revenue and objects of expenditure. We use the detailed data on the first years toinfer from the latter data the value of these missing items. Note that it is unlikely thatthis lack of information is attributable to any sort of municipal obfuscation, however.

Although municipal councils have a high level of autonomy, their accounts come underclose scrutiny. The accounts are examined yearly by the an independent agency madeup of civil servants not subject to political fluctuations, so that misappropriation offunds does not seem of concern here.

egionale des Comptes is the
agency in charge of examining local public finances.

ity grants to private parties, or to other administrative divisions. The sum
of these amounts is the total amount of municipal expenses. The difference
between total revenues and total expenses is the amount of municipal sav-
ings, by definition.

Data on municipal social/demographic characteristics. Data on
municipal social, economic and geographic characteristics are available from
the Institut National des Statistiques et Etudes EcThey are
mainly based on the last two censuses, which took place in 1999 and 2007.

We observe the number of residents of a municipality; its total population,
the size of its labor force; the number of employed individuals, the number
of its residents in each of the following age categories: 0 to 14, 15 to 29,
30 to 44, 45 to 59, 60 to 74, and 75 years old or more; the median income
of its residents; and the surface it covers. Since median income is reported
only for towns that have more than 50 households, our sample of observa-
tions is limited to around 30,000 municipalities when we use these variables.

Data on weather and flu. We use data on weather conditions from Meteo
France, the French national meteorological service. This service maintains
records on rainfall from a network of more than 1100 observation stations.

Throughout France, voting stations open at 8pm, at the earliest, and close
at 8pm, at the latest. So, we obtained, for each station, the quantity of
rain that fell in the morning (8am-12pm), at midday (12pm-4pm), and in
the afternoon and evening (4pm-8pm), for March 11th, from 1996 to 2001,
and for March 9th, from 2003 to 2008. We use data on the incidence of
influenza-like illnesses from the R´
eseau Sentinelles (roughly equivalent to
the Center for Disease Control), an organization that gathers data from
general practitioners in France, to follow the spread of the main infectious
diseases over time and placeThis organization does not disclose their
data at the medical doctor level, but instead provide an interpolated aggre-
9Available online at http : //www.insee.f r/f r/bases − de − donnees/
10http://websenti.b3e.jussieu.fr/sentiweb/. We are grateful to Cl´ement Turbelin for
his help in obtaining the data, and for his generous explanations.

gated estimation of monthly incidence, that is the number of new patients
per 100,000 persons and per month, who visited a general practitioner with
symptoms of influenza, for more than 700 evenly geographically distributed
locations of observation. For our purpose, we obtained the incidence in the
month of February, which is the closest month before the first round of the
elections, for the years 1996 to 2001, and 2003 to
We thus have data on turnout and fiscal variables for around 35,000
municipalities, and social and demographic data for around 30,000 munic-
ipalities. Table contains the list and descriptive statistics of all variables
used in this study. In Appendix we show on maps the geographic distri-
bution of municipalities for which we have at least turnout and fiscal data,
as well as locations of observation of weather and flu incidence.

Specification and Identification
Two elections took place over our period of study, in March 2001 and in
March 2008. Our data thus cover part or all of the following three terms:
1998-2000 (term 1), 2001-2007 (term 2), and 2008-2012 (term 3).

In most of the paper, we estimate the impact of turnout on fiscal policy
separately for each election. For a municipality i and a term t ∈ {1, 2}, our
main equation of interest is:
log F i,t+1 − log F i,t = αt + β log T urnouti,t + ξXi,t + i,t
where, for any fiscal policy outcome F , F i,t denotes the average of yearly
values of F over the years of term t (observed in our data) in municipality
iThe dependent variable log F i,t+1 − log F i,t, then, is the net relative
11We also obtained incidence data for the month of March, for the same years. If we
use the March data instead of February data, the results are similar but not as robust.

12We aggregate data over a term because of the serial correlation of fiscal policy
variables that could bias the estimation of the standard errors. Such aggregation is alsomore consistent with the decision process of municipal councils which plan revenues and
growth in average F , from one term to another. Variable T urnouti,t is the
percentage of registered voters in municipality i who voted in the election
held at the end of term t, and Xi,t is a vector of covariates estimated before
or at the time of this election.

We also estimate the impact of turnout on fiscal policy jointly for both
elections, pooling data of all three municipal terms. In this case, the spec-
log F i,t+1 − log F i,t = α0 + α0 + β0 log T urnout
i,t + ξ0Xi,t + 0i,t
with the same notations as before, where we also include dummy variables
for each elections α0 , and municipal fixed effects α0.

Voter turnout in a municipality is endogenous to characteristics of the mu-
nicipality and the given political competition. Turnout depends on various
observable social and economic variables, such as the number of residents in
the municipality. Turnout could also be correlated with unobservable mu-
nicipal characteristics, such as voters' beliefs about what candidates would
do if elected. If the implementation of some costly program is at stake
in an election, voters have more incentive to participate, and the expected
budget after the election- either expenses or revenues - would be larger than
if no costly program were involved.

To identify the causal effect of turnout, we must rely on factors that
affect it, but are exogenous to policy decisions. We propose two types
of instrumental variables that do not directly impact budgetary decisions:
variables based on rainfall on election day at three times of the day (morn-
ing, midday, afternoon), and variables based on flu incidence in the month
preceding the election. Using these instrumental variables, we estimate the
previous equations in 2SLS and LIML. The specification of the first stage
of the estimations is:
spending over a term.

log T urnouti,t = θt + γZi,t + χtXi,t + ηi,t
with the same notations as before, where Zi,t is the estimated value(s) of the
(set of) instrumental variable(s) in municipality i measured in municipal
term t, as it is measured at the location of observation closest to i. We
run most estimations separately for the 2001 and the 2008 elections (we
include a municipal fixed-effect in the specification used for the estimations
on data pooling both elections).

Both of these instrumental variables should impact municipal turnout.

It can be expected that flu incidence impacts turnout negatively, both
because sick people may not be able to cast a ballot. Rainfall could influence
turnout in two opposite ways. On the one hand, rain may deter voters from
venturing out and vote. On the other hand, sunny weather may encourage
voters to engage in outdoor activities, or go out of town for the weekend,
especially since French always elections occur on Sunday.

To be valid, these instrumental variables must be uncorrelated with
shocks on changes in municipal fiscal variables. Several points support
this assumption. First, these variables are hard to predict more than a
few weeks before the elections, especially at the local level, so that they
should not have a direct impact on public policy over the years before the
elections. In addition, the weather conditions were never so extreme, or
the flu epidemics never so dramatic that they could have triggered any
substantial municipal expenditures, in infrastructure for instance, after the
It is possible that these instrumental variables are correlated with local
social and economic variables, such as the percentage of children in the
population, or with geographic variables, such as the distance to Paris,
which may affect municipal budget trends. To address this point, we in-
clude social, economic, and geographic municipal variables measured at
the time of the election in the vector of covariates. Since it is possible that
trends in weather or flu incidence are correlated with unobservable social
and economic factor influencing fiscal policy, we also include the values of
instrumental variables for the four years before the elections in the vector of
covFinally, to check directly whether instrumental variables are
correlated with budget trends, we also estimate the regression of changes
in budget occurring before an election, on the value of either instrumental
variable at the time of the following election.

Since the impact of any given instrument differs across elections, and in
order to simplify the comparison between the effect of turnout across elec-
tions, we run all estimations for each election separately, and present the
results first. Estimations on pooled data are presented at the end of this
Effect of instrumental variables on turnout
We first present the results of the first-stage regressions.

Columns 1 to 4 report the results of the regressions of turnout on rain-
fall in the afternoon of the election day (we present the estimations of the
effect of morning and midday rainfall in Section separately for the
2001 and 2008 elections, with two different vectors of covariates. We find
that rainfall increased participation in both years. The dominant effect of
rain on turnout is positive: sunny weather on Sunday of voting gives po-
tential voters incentive to enjoy outdoor activities rather than spend time
at the voting station.

13The full set of covariates is then: log of population registered as primary residents of
the municipality, total population of the municipality, number of people who are between0 and 14 years old, between 15 and 29, between 30 and 44 years old, between 45 and59 years old, between 60 and 74 years old, more than 74 years old, median income,surface of the municipality, polynomials of latitude and longitude, log of distance toParis, and dummy variables indicating regions. This set of covariates is interacted withthe number of municipal councilmen, values of rainfall on the day of the election foreach of the four years preceding the election, flu incidence in February for each of thefour years preceding the election.

Although the estimated coefficients are positive for both years, the im-
pact of rain is not statistically significant at 5 percent in 2008. We found
anecdotal evidence in the main French provincial newspaper (Ouest-France)
that corroborates this story.
In columns 5 to 8 of Table we report the results of the regression of
turnout on flu incidence in the month preceding the elections, in 2001 and
2008. We find that a larger incidence of the flu decreases turnout, in both
2001 and 2008. Being sick increases the cost of voting.

Numerically, an increase of 1 percent in flu incidence decreases turnout
by 0.0076 percent in 2008. Using summary statistics in Table and the
fact that average flu incidence in February 2008 was 1709, a rough approx-
imation indicates that an increase of 1 percent in flu incidence corresponds
to population × incidence/100 = 1798 × 1709 /100 = .307 more sick peo-
ple on average. Such a change decreases turnout by 0.0076 percent, that
is by 0.0076 × 7.72 = 0.059 voters. Since we use monthly incidence, and
flu symptoms usually last a week, the actual number of reported cases of
patients who may still suffer from the flu at the time of the election may
be around one fourth of the monthly incidence. Overall, we conclude that
for 1 × .307 = 1.3 sick people in the month before the elections, 1 person
fewer will not vote, which seems a reasonable order of magnitude.

The results indicate that the coefficient is significantly different from 0
in 2008 only. We found abundant anecdotal evidence that the flu epidemic
that struck in 2008 was particularly long and virulen
14 Ouest-France mentions that turnout was expected to be lower in areas that would
have nicer weather on voting day. In 2001, we found many articles that mention outdooractivities that were organized to take advantage of the good weather. See Ouest-Franceof Saturday, February 19th 2001, and March 10th 2001. Fewer articles mentioned a niceweather in 2008.

15In 2008, a proportion of patients infected by the most common strain of influenza
(Type A H1N1, representing 67% of the flu cases that year), appeared to be resistant tothe main drug used to treat it (oseltamivir, commercialized under the name of Tamiflu).

The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control and other agencies reportedat the beginning of February 2008 that they had: "detected an unusually high rateof resistance to the antiviral drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu) in random samples of seasonalinfluenza virus taken from around the continent." The share of resistant strains wasthen estimated to be around 14%, compared to 1% in the previous years (Dyer 2008). InFrance, Van Der Werf 2008 estimated at the end of the epidemics that around 30 percent
Effect of turnout on municipal revenues
Total municipal revenues. Table reports the results on the impact
of turnout on the increase from one term to the next in average municipal
revenues, separately for the 2001 and 2008 elections, with and without so-
cial and demographic covariates.

We first estimate the coefficients of this regression in OLS (columns
1 and 2 for 2001 and columns 7 and 8 for 2008). The results show that
turnout has a positive impact, small and not significant, on municipal rev-
enues. We then estimate the coefficients of the same regression in 2SLS.

The instrumental variables in these estimations are rainfall in the afternoon
of election day (columns 3 and 4 for 2001, columns 9 and 10 for 2008), and
log of flu incidence in the month before the election. In all these estima-
tions, the estimated coefficient is negative: a bigger turnout in municipal
elections leads to smaller municipal revenues after the elections.

Coefficients estimated using 2SLS are much smaller than those esti-
mated with OLS. This difference is consistent with what we consider to
be the main source of endogeneity. If some or all candidates have big-
ger projects, political participation is more valuable, so that turnout and
growth in municipal budgets are positively correlated, and OLS estimations
of the regression of turnout on growth in municipal budget are biased up-
Although all the estimated coefficients in 2SLS are negative, the F-
statistic for testing the hypothesis that the instrument does not enter the
first stage regression is relatively large in 2001 if we use rainfall as the IV,
and in 2008 if we use flu incidence as the IV. In the other cases, the instru-
ments may be weak and lead to biased estimations (see e.g. Bound, Jaeger
and Baker 1995).

It is remarkable that, regardless of the instrument used, and regardless
of the year of analysis, we obtain quite similar results. This similarity is
of all infected patients had contracted that resistant strain. Media coverage confirmsthis trend. A broad search in the newspaper Ouest-France indicated that around 50articles mentioned the flu between February 1st and March 15th 2008 (compared to lessthan 10 over the same period in 2001).

particularly surprising, since the instruments could affect different types of
voters: outdoor activities should presumably largely concern young house-
holds while the flu disproportionately affects older voters. Although the
magnitude of the effect of these instruments on turnout varies from one
election to another, and depends on the specific weather or flu conditions,
the direction of the effect of turnout on budget is the same.

What is the order of magnitude of these effects? Given that the average
budget is 2.2 million and the average population around 1798 inhabitants,
a 1 percent increase in turnout corresponds to a fall in budget of around
24.5 euros per capita per year (considering an elasticity of -2, i.e a value
close to the average elasticity). We can also express this as the expected
impact of an additional vote. Given that the average number of voters who
do cast a ballot is around 772, the minimum expected gain for an individual
from voting is a decrease (resp. an increase) of around 3.17 euros of yearly
budget if he votes for (resp. against) the candidate proposing the lower
These results also provide information on voting costs. The previous
estimation of the expected gain or loss in terms of budget for every addi-
tional vote, in the order of 3.17 euros per year for 7 years (approximately
22 euros, in 2000 euros), is an upper bound, since people tend to discount
the future at higher rates. If the vote is for a reduction in budget, the
maximum gain in utility is easy to express: in the worst case scenario, the
voter would not have benefited at all from this extra spending, and 22 eu-
ros is the maximum expected gain. If the vote is in favor of an increase in
budget, the gain could be larger depending on the utility derived from this
expenditure. Furthermore, no information can be obtained for those voters
who did not actually turn
16We know that on average 7.72 additional voters decrease the budget by 22 euros per
capita and we can thus derive the impact of one additional voter.

17Consider two candidates H and L where H implements a high per capita budget
bH and L a lower one bL. Let Pv be the probability H is elected if an individualfavoring candidate L votes and Pnv be the probability if he does not (Pv < Pnv sincewe consider someone favoring L). Finally we denote g the extra benefit this individualderives from having the high budget implemented.

In this discussion we implicitly
assume that g cannot be negative. In other words you can get zero benefits from the
To go further we need to make some assumptions on the distribution
of voting costs. If we assume that costs are equal across the population,
we know, from the previous discussion, the maximum financial benefits for
voters voting against the increase. Given that costs are identical, we can
state that an upper bound on voting costs, net of non-financial benefits of
voting such as the satisfaction of performing one's civic duty, is 22 euros.

If we assume that voting costs are heterogeneous but are independent
of the preferences for the budget, we can also infer that the average voting
costs (net of non financial benefits from voting) for the first three quartiles
of the population (i.e population that does vote) is below 22 euros. Indeed
this can be derived from the behavior of the voters voting against the bud-
Detailed municipal revenues. In Table we estimate separately the
impact of turnout on each source of municipal revenues. We run the es-
timations separately for each election year, using rainfall in 2001 and flu
incidence in 2008 as instrumental variables, since they are the best respec-
tive IV. We present the estimations with all the covariates in our data.

We find first that a higher turnout reduces revenues from the sale of
municipal assets and use of savings (columns 1 and 2 of Table The
effect is very large, and is the main force behind the observed impact of
turnout on total revenues. Although we cannot distinguish the effect of
turnout on asset sales (which are physical assets) from its effect on the
use of savings due to data limitations, the former effect should be much
larger than the smaller. The law mandates that municipal savings yield no
returns, so that municipalities have little incentive to save, as confirmed in
estimations presented in the section on municipal expenses.

We also find some negative impact of turnout on loans in 2001 (columns
extra public good but you will not suffer from it. The expected utility from voting isthen Pv(g − bH ) + (1 − Pv)(−bL) while not voting yields Pnv(g − bH ) + (1 − Pnv)(−bL).

Thus a marginal voter who is indifferent to voting must have a cost of voting c such thatc = (Pnv − Pv)(bH − bL − g). What we actually observe in the data is the average valueof (Pnv − Pv)(bH − bL).

3 and However, turnout has no significant effect on revenues from mu-
nicipal taxes (columns 5 and 6). What explains this absence of effect? Even
though municipal councils have the power to set the municipal budget, they
face multiple constraints that could prevent substantial changes in local tax
rates. First, by law, local tax rates must remain within certain bounds that
depend on the average rate of comparable municipalities. Second, tax com-
petition between municipalities constrains the tax rate. Tax competition
could be particularly intense due to the high density of towns in France
since a high density lowers the total cost of moving from one municipality
to another. Third, changes in taxes apply more or less uniformly across
the population of voters, whereas instruments such as the sale of physical
assets can be much more targeted towards specific groups of the municipal
In columns 7 and 8, we estimate that a higher turnout has no significant
impact on the growth of unconditional subsidies received by the municipal-
ity. These subsidies are granted automatically according to a formula set
in the national law that incorporates municipal demographic, geographic
and social variables. Therefore, this result shows only that there is no
correlation between the IV and these variables. We find that conditional
subsidies, however, are significantly smaller in municipalities with higher
turnout (columns 9 and 10). These subsidies are project based subsidies,
mostly refunds on sales taxes, so that municipalities with a lower turnout
may not only sell but also buy more assets, a point we further examine in
the section on municipal expenses.

Finally, we find no significant effect of turnout on municipal rents (columns
11 and 12). Changes in physical assets do not affect the amount of revenues
municipalities aim to raise from this source
18These estimations could be biased, since lots of municipalities take no loan at all in
at least one term.

19Local taxes stem mainly from real estate taxes. These taxes affect all but the poorest
residents, who may be tax-exempt under ceratin conditions, whereas other sources ofrevenue could spare political supporters of the current municipal council.

20Municipal rents consist of payments from services provided by the municipality, and
returns from physical assets, such as municipal real estate or equipment. These rentsalso contain taxes designed to fund certain services, such as garbage collection.

Effect of turnout on municipal expenses
Table reports the results of the 2SLS regressions of turnout on growth
in municipal expenses, for different types of expenditures. We ran the
estimations separately for each election year, and used rainfall in 2001 and
flu incidence in 2008 as instrumental variables.

We find that total municipal expenses are bigger when voter turnout
is lower (Columns 1 and 2). In both elections, the impact of turnout on
growth in total expenses is significant at 10 percent. In addition, it is of
the same order of magnitude as the effect of turnout on growth in total
revenues. The extra revenues raised by municipal councils elected with a
low turnout are thus spent, not saved. Municipalities have little incentive to
save, since, by law, their savings yield no interest. This result is confirmed
in columns 3 and 4, which show that voter turnout has no significant effect
on the growth of savings.

The main expenses that turnout affects are physical assets (Columns 5
and 6). We find that a 1 percent increase in turnout decreases asset pur-
chases by more than 10 percent. In both elections, this effect is statistically
We also find, after the 2001 elections only, that a higher voter turnout
decreases annuities (Columns 7 and 8). This last result, large but not
significant, may suggest that the extra expenditures of municipalities with
low turnout were funded partly through debt, at least in 2001. The 2007-
2008 financial crisis made borrowing harder for French municipalities in
2008 and after, which may explain why we don't find an effect of turnout
on annuities in the 2008
Besides asset expenses and annuities, no other type of expense is affected
as much by voter turnout. It does not affect expenses in personnel (columns
9 and 10), contributions paid by the municipality (columns 11 and 12), or
maintenance expenses (columns 13 and
21Indeed, in 2009, Dexia, a bank that has been the main creditor of local governments
in France, announced huge losses, which led to substantial restructuring thereafter. Thisrestructuring led to a decrease in available credit to municipalities.

22In some specifications, we find a small positive impact of turnout on increase in
Effect of turnout on other outcomes
Electoral outcomes. Does turnout affect the identity of elected coun-
cilmen? To address this question, we construct three binary variables to
address this question: a variable equal to 1 if the mayor is reelected (both in
the council and as mayor), a variable equal to 1 if a majority of seats in the
council are won by candidates from a left-wing party, and a variable equal
to if 1 if the ideology (left-wing or right-wing) of a majority of councilmen
is the same in both 2001 and 2008. We call this latter dependent variable
the "probability that a majority of councilmen is from the incumbent ide-
ology", and we can estimate the regression of this variable on turnout in
2008 only, since we have no information on municipal councils before 2001.

Table reports the 2SLS estimations separately for each election, using
rainfall as the instrumental variable for the 2001 election, and flu for the
2008 election. We find no impact of turnout on the probability that the in-
cumbent mayor is reelected, or the incumbent ideology wins in 2008. This
may contrast with the "anti-incumbent" effect, which states that higher
turnout may harm the probability of reelection of incumbent representa-
tives. The reality of this anti-incumbent effect has not been tested, though,
and our results suggest that it does not hold, although we stress that these
results may not be robust due to data limitations. Similarly, since turnout
favors more fiscally conservative policies, we may have expected it to also
favor right-wing parties. The fact that right-wing parties, at the local level
at least, always implement more fiscally conservative policies remains to be
proven though (see Ferreira and Gyourko 2009). In addition, for a local
party wishing to cater to a certain group of residents, it may be a better
strategy to find a new public asset to invest in that really addresses the
needs of this group, than to increase or decrease local taxes for instance.

We examine more this hypothesis in Section
maintenance expenses. Selling some equipment spares the municipality the expensesrequired for its maintenance. The positive effect of turnout on maintenance expensesand its negative impact on asset sales are thus complementary.

Social and economic outcomes We also estimate, in Table the ef-
fect of turnout on the increase of three municipal characteristics that we
observe until 2011: median income, unemployment, and number of res-
idents. Turnout only significantly affects median income in 2008. This
increase in local residents' income may result from the fact that new assets
are bought from local residents themselves. Since more assets are bought
when turnout is low, the income of the sellers, some of whom could have the
median income, increases. Municipalities with low turnout also sell more
assets, though, most likely to residents as well. Also, French law mandates
that public administration buy and sell at market price, thus limiting the
possibility for municipalities to distribute some net cash flow to some of
their residents through asset sales and purchases. A different interpreta-
tion of this result is that municipalities that sell and buy more assets may
provide public goods that cater better to their residents' needs. Residents,
who may then save their own private spending, can buy more goods from
local business, thereby increasing local median income. For instance, a new
local school may save commuting expenses to residents with children.

Additional results
Placebo test of the identification assumption. The identification
requires that instrumental variables only impact the budget through their
effect on voter turnout on the election day. In particular, it requires that in-
strumental variables are not correlated with growth in municipal revenues.

To test this assumption, we run a series of placebo estimations. For each
year preceding an election, we partition our data into two fictitious terms,
one comprising all observations before that year, and another comprising all
observations from that year up to the true election year. Then, we estimate
the impact of the best instrument on the growth in municipal revenues from
one fictitious term to the other. Table in Appendix shows the results
of these estimations. We find no significant impact of either instrument on
growth in revenues before the election, for any fictitious year of election.

Other estimations. We report, in Table in Appendix the results
of the regression of revenues on turnout, with data of both elections pooled
together. We can then include municipal fixed effects in the regressions.

The OLS estimation (column 1) shows no significant impact of turnout, as
before. No instrument has a significant impact on revenues, which is un-
surprising given their strength. However, when both instruments are used,
the LIML estimation of the coefficient is negative, and quite large. This
estimation, more reliable but less precise than the 2SLS estimation given
the instruments we have, is consistent with our previous results.

In Table we present additional results of the first and second stage 2SLS
estimations of the impact of other weather variables: rainfall in the morn-
ing of the election, and rainfall at midday. We find no significant impact of
either variable on turnout. These results suggests that unmotivated voters
may base their vote more on the weather of the afternoon than the weather
at any other time of the day.

Interpretation of results
Intepretation. Two main findings emerge from our empirical results: (1)
an exogenous increase in turnout at the time of the election decreases both
revenues and expenses, and (2) this decrease is mainly a decrease in sales
and purchases of public physical assets.

Our interpretation relies on the fact that turnout affects who is elected:
the programs of the individual candidates or parties differ, and an increase
in turnout affects their probability of election. If a party or a candidate's
platform reflects her supporters' preference, our results mean that the pref-
erences of the most motivated voters - the ones who cast a ballot when
there is a high exogenous shock on voting costs - differ from the preferences
of the least motivated voters
23If we suppose that voters or candidates are "sufficiently" well-informed and ratio-
nal, a high or low turnout caused by an exogenous cause should have no effect on thepolicy implemented by a given candidate if elected. This assumption may fail, though.

For instance, a winning candidate may not realize that a high turnout is due to fac-
Individual candidates or parties can choose among several fiscal instru-
ments to implement their program: buying or selling physical assets, in-
creasing or lowering local taxes, or borrowing. Buying and selling particular
assets, such as a school, permits greater targeting of certain groups than
the other instruments, since local taxes affect almost every household, and
must by law remain within certain bounds. So, it seems natural that the
parties will compete mostly on which public good to provide, thus appeal-
ing to a particular group. This explains finding (2) above. However, it does
not explain finding (1), which states that the candidate or party with the
highest budget tend to win when turnout is low. To understand this point,
we consider an election with two parties, who each support investment in
a specific new asset, competing in a winner-take-all election. This assump-
tion simplifies the discussion, and fits the actual context of most municipal
elections (see section in which two parties compete to obtain a majority
of seats in the council.

Parties prefer different assets. Furthermore, they promise in their cam-
paign the quantity of the new asset they would acquire if elected. Similarly,
municipal residents differ both in terms of how they rank new public as-
sets, and in their fiscal conservatism (i.e. in how much they dislike higher
If the two competing parties have different budgets, the party with the
smaller budget is the preferred party both of residents who prefer the new
asset it proposes, and of residents who prefer the other new asset, but find
the other party's budget too high. The other party can, however, attract
only voters who strongly prefer her pla
Everything else equal, the party with the smaller budget then has a
numerical advantage. It is thus not profitable for the other party to have
a higher budget, unless setting a higher budget makes some of its own
tors independent of residents' preferences, and might infer from it that voters will holdhim/her more accountable. H/She may then increase his/her effort to contain the costsof municipal expenses.

24Conservative voters may not actually vote for a party with a small budget, but may
simply abstain due to less incentive to vote for the party that would invest in theirfavorite public good if its budget is too high.

supporters more likely to vote. In fact, the voters that will be the most
likely to turn out are the fiscally liberal supporters of the high spending
party: they gain more of their preferred public good than the others and
don't care much about the budget. If there is a positive shock on voting
cost, this party may win.

Electoral competition thus creates the conditions for a natural sorting.

If voting cost is low and turnout is high, this discussion suggests that the
party with the smaller budget is more likely to win. Conversely, if voting
cost is high and turnout is low, the party with the higher budget is more
likely to win. Such sorting naturally leads to the situation described in
finding (1) above. We formalize these ideas in the model presented in the
next section.

We emphasize that, in our interpretation, the effect of turnout on the
size of the budget of the winning party does not depend on the actual cause
of random shocks on voting costs. This feature is consistent with the result
that different instruments show the same impact of turnout on the budget,
even though the individuals whose cost of voting is affected by the weather
are not the same as those affected by the flu, and likely value different types
Model. The model we present has a high degree of symmetry. Relax-
ing the symmetric assumptions would not affect the main result. However,
no other asymmetric feature than the one we consider impacts the relation
between turnout and budget.

We consider two groups of equal size, denoted 1 and 2, and two parties
also denoted 1 and 2. Parties simultaneously set budgets x1 and x2 for
their respective programs in order to maximize their probability of being
Each group member decides whether to turn out to vote and if so, for
whom to vote. We assume that both groups have a continuum of voters,
25For instance, we may assume that those who do not vote when it does not rain,
because they pursue weekend plans, are young professionals while those most affectedby the flu may be the elderly.

and that a voter casts a ballot if the difference between the utilities she
would obtain from her preferred program relative to her least preferred, is
bigger than her voting cost. The utility of a member i of group g is given by
u(xg) − αixg if party g wins, and −αix−g otherwise, where u is C2, concave,
and u(0) = 0, and where αi is drawn from a uniform distribution on [0, 1].

Thus the good financed by party g is valuable only for a member of group
g. Voters also care about the level of spending, to varying degrees; the
parameter αi measures the degree of fiscal conservatism of voter i.

The cost of voting of any member of group g is c , where c is randomly
drawn from a uniform distribution on [0, C], and θ1, θ2 > 0. We assume
that C is "large enough" in the sense that we consider only equilibria such
that for c close to the upper limit of the interval, nobody votes. The only
asymmetry between groups is that they differ in θg, in other words in vot-
ing costs. We normalize θ1 = 1 and θ2 ≡ θ > θ1. For any level of shock
on voting costs, members of group 2 will have a lower cost of voting than
members of group 1.

We make the following tie-breaking assumption. If both parties obtain
the same positive number of votes, neither of them gets elected. This as-
sumption is not necessary, but simplifies the presentation. It ensures that
candidates have some incentives for different platforms. Such an assump-
tion seems reasonable since if parties are too similar, other candidates may
To understand the mechanics of the model, consider a case where party
2 proposes a higher budget than party 1. In such a situation, we have
several types of voters:
• Voters of group 1 who come and vote for party 1: such that u(x1) −
αix1 + αix2 ≥ c
• Voters of group 2 who are fiscally liberal and vote for party 2: such
that u(x2) − αix2 + αix1 ≥ c
26We could also make an alternative, possibly weaker assumption, which is to assume
that some cost is incurred by both candidates in case of equality.

• Voters of group 2 who are fiscally conservative and vote for party 1:
such that −u(x2) + αix2 − αix1 ≥ c
Thus the number of voters turning out in favour of party 1 in the case
where all three types of voters are present is given by:
The number of voters turning out for party 2 is given by:
which is decreasing in c as the intuitive discussion above suggested, so that
typically party 1 wins for low values of c while party 2 wins otherwise.

The following proposition confirms these patterns and presents sufficient
conditions for such an equilibrium to exist. The proof of the proposition is
Proposition. (1) If, in a pure strategy equilibrium, both parties have
a strictly positive probability of winning and there exists ˆ
c ∈ (0, C) such
that one party wins if and only if c ≤ ˆ
c, and the other party wins if and
c then, the former party's budget is strictly smaller than the
latter party's budget.

(2) If θ ∈ (1, 2) and u0(0) ∈ ( 1 , 1], then such an equilibrium exists, where
party 1 wins if and only if c < ˆ
c and party 2 if and only if c > ˆ
The first part of the proposition states that, if there is an equilibrium
in which the cost of voting has a monotone impact on the elected budget
(provided one of the parties wins), then the party with the smaller budget
wins for small values of c, and conversely, the party with the biggest budget
wins when c is larger. We focus on this type of equilibrium since it is
the only one with "clear" comparative statics. The second part of the
proposition identifies sufficient conditions such that this equilibrium indeed
Whereas most of the literature on voter turnout examines the determinants
of turnout, we take in this paper a first step towards understanding the
effect of turnout on policy outcomes. We show that higher turnout has a
large and significant negative impact on municipal revenues and spending
and that this effect is due mostly to a decrease in the sale and purchases
of physical assets. We use these results to estimate some bounds on voting
costs, and we provide a new model suggesting an explanation for this set
In our model, the impact of a higher turnout on welfare may be posi-
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welfare implications, though: if turnout makes the elected officials more
accountable, the effect will undoubtedly be positive. Regardless of one's
interpretation, our paper shows that public policies aimed at encouraging
voter turnout, and independent of the political context, could have a sizable
welfare impact. Estimating this impact remains an open question.

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Table 1: Summary statistics
MUNICIPAL FISCAL VARIABLESTotal Revenues
Asset Sales & Use of Savings
Subsidies - Unconditional
Subsidies - Conditional
Total Annual Expenses
VOTER TURNOUTVoter Turnout per 100 Registered Individuals
# Registered municipal residents
RAINFALL in MMAfternoon Rainfall on Election Day D, Month M, Year Y
Past Afternoon Rainfall - D, M, Y-1
Past Afternoon Rainfall - D, M, Y-2
Past Afternoon Rainfall - D, M, Y-3
Past Afternoon Rainfall - D, M, Y-4
FLU INCIDENCE per 100,000Flu incidence in February in Election Year Y
Past Flu incidence in February, Y-1
Past Flu incidence in February, Y-2
Past Flu incidence in February, Y-3
Past Flu incidence in February, Y-4
ADMINISTRATIVE/GEOGRAPHIC VARIABLESRegion Code
Distance to Paris
Continued on next page.

. table 1 continued
Residents 0-14 years old
Residents 15-29 years old
Residents 30-44 years old
Residents 45-59 years old
Residents 60-74 years old
Residents 75 or more years old
ELECTORAL OUTCOMESIncumbent mayor reelected
Left party wins majority
Incumbent ideology wins majority
OTHER POLITICAL VARIABLESOther issue on the ballot
# Votes for Right in 2007 presidential elections
# Votes for Left in 2007 presidential elections
Turnout in previous municipal election
NOTES. Our data cover more than 30,000 municipalities, and three municipal terms. Municipal fiscal variables are measuredin every term. All other variables are measured before or at the time of the election. MUNICIPAL FISCAL VARIABLES.

Municipal fiscal variables are in thousand Euros of 2000. By definition, the mean of a revenue (expenditure) variable V is themean, over three terms, of the average amount of yearly revenue (expense) V raised (spent) in a term. We cannot distinguish inthe data asset sales and use of savings with our data on municipal finances. ADMINISTRATIVE/GEOGRAPHIC VARIABLES.

The region code is conventional, and independent of social, demographic, etc. variables. In the estimations, we use a dummyvariable for every region and every number of councilmen.

ELECTORAL OUTCOMES. We only observe the incumbent
ideology with a majority of seats for the 2008 election. OTHER POLITICAL VARIABLES. We only observe the number ofvoters at the municipal level for the main candidates of the left and the right in the presidential elections of 2007, so that wecan only use this variable in 2008. See section for more information on the data. SOURCES: See section
Electoral System of French Mu-nicipal Councils
For Online Publication
Below 3500 residents, the electoral system follows a first-past-the-post
voting method. Candidates run individually, although they are usually af-filiated with a local group, which may be linked to a national party, andevery voter can give at most one vote to any arbitrary number of candi-dates smaller than the number of seats. The candidates fill the availablepositions in order of highest vAbove 3500 residents - apart from thethree biggest cities Paris, Lyon and Marseilles - council seats are distributedaccording to a party-list proportional representation system. Candidatesrun in groups, which may also be linked to a national party, and everyvoter can vote for at most one group. The group with the most votes ob-tains at least half the seats; the remaining seats are distributed accordingto some highest average method. The number of councilmen depends onthe number of municipal residents too, as shown in the following table.

27A candidate can be elected in the first round only if more than half voters and at
least a quarter registered voters voted for her or him.

Table 7: French Municipal Councils
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional
Party-list /Proportional

For Online Publication
Figure 1: French Municipalities (located in Continental France, which ex-cludes Overseas Territories and Corsica.) The thick black lines delimitFrench regions. Municipalities are delimited by grey borders. Municipal-ities filled in blue are in the sample, white-colored are out of the sample.

We excluded municipalities for which we had either no fiscal data, or norecord of voter turnout. In most cases, the missing information is voterturnout.

Additional Results
For Online Publication
Table 9: Effect of Turnout on Revenues - Municipal Fixed Effects
Dependent Variable: Increase Revenues from One Term to the Next
NOTES. This table reports the 2SLS fixed effect estimations of the regression of the increase in the averageyearly municipal revenues over a term (or over part of a term if observations are missing), from one termto the next, on voter turnout in the municipal election between both terms, for all observations. Theinstrumental variable used in 2SLS estimations is indicated at the bottom of each column. All regressionsinclude all covariates of our data (except the ones that we only observe in 2001 or later). See Table 1 forthe detailed list of covariates, and sources of revenues. Standard errors are clustered at the location ofobservation level in the 2SLS estimations. The number of clusters is reported in Table + Significant atthe 10 percent level. ∗ Significant at the 5 percent level.

Effect of Other Rainfall Variables on Turnout - OLS
Dependent Variable: Log Turnout
NOTES. This table reports the OLS estimation of the regression of voter turnout on rainfall in the morningand at midday of election day, separately for the 2001 and 2008 French municipal elections. There is oneobservation by municipality. All regressions include all covariates. + Significant at the 10 percent level. ∗Significant at the 5 percent level.

Proof of the Proposition
For Online Publication
(i) As formulated in the main text we have:
and the number of voters (multiplied by C) for party k is then:
where Z∗ ≡ min(max(Z, 0), 1).

We study equilibria (supposing they exist) such that both parties have astrictly positive probability of winning and there exists ˆ
c ∈ (0, C) such
that, one party wins if and only if c ≤ ˆ
c and the other if and only if c > ˆ
We first show that it has to be that S1(ˆ
c) < 1. Suppose on the
contrary that S1(ˆ
c) = 1 (i.e all voters turn out if the voting cost
c). Then, S1(c) = S2(c) = 1 for c ∈ (0, ˆ
c], so that, on this interval, no
party is elected given our tie-breaking rule. Such an equilibrium does notsatisfy the description above.

In such an equilibrium, parties must have different budgets. Suppose bycontradiction that it is not the case. Then we see party 1 would never winregardless of c since voters in her group have a higher voting cost (higherθg).

Use the notation xj < xk for j, k ∈ {1, 2}, j 6= k. A unique intersection ˆ
may only arise in the two cases (a) and (b) below.

(a) No voter from group k votes for party j. In this case, Sj(c) = Sk(c) canbe written:
In this case, (θk − θj)ˆ
c = θjθk u(xj) − xj + xk − u(xk)
- If θj < θk, Sk(c) − Sj(c) strictly increases in c, so that k wins on c ∈
c, θku(xk), and j wins on 0, ˆ
c. Thus, j's expected utility is ˆ
expected utility is θku(xk) − ˆ
c. Since both maximize their utility, we have
u0(xj) = 1, and u0(xk) = θj . Note that u0(x
j ) > u0(xk ) since θk > θj .

Therefore, xk > xj, which is consistent with our initial assumption.

- If θ
j > θk , a similar logic yields that j wins on c ∈
c, θju(xj)−θjxj +θjxk ,
and k wins on 0, ˆ
c. So, k's utility is ˆ
c, and j's utility is θju(xj) − θjxj +
c. Since both maximize their utility, we have u0(xj) = u0(xk) = 1,
which contradicts xj < xk.

(b) Some voters from group k vote for party j. In this case,
In this case, Sk(c) − Sj(c) strictly increases in c regardless of the com-parison between θj and θk, so that j wins for c ∈ 0, ˆ
c, and k wins for
c, θku(xk).

In both cases (a) and (b), we have therefore shown that parties' budgetsare different, and the party with the smallest budget wins if and only ifc ≤ ˆ
c, whereas the other party wins if and only if c ≥ ˆ
We now show that θ2 ∈ (1, 2) and u0(0) ≤ 1 are sufficient condi-
tions for an equilibrium with the property of the part (i) to exist.

θ2 ∈ (1, 2) prevents the intersection of case (b) in the proof above fromoccurring. Indeed, the intersection (b) occurs only if there is a strictlypositive number of voters from group k voting for party j at ˆ
only if θk xk − xj − u(xk) > ˆ
c (and xk − xj − u(xk) > 0). Since ˆ
θj u(xj) − 2xj + 2xk − 2u(xk) in this case, the last inequality amounts tou(x1) < (θk − 2θj) xk − xj − u(xk), which is impossible since u(x1) ≥ 0,and θk − 2θj < 0.

We saw in the proof above that case (a) can only occur if x1 < x2, at ˆ
since, in this equilibrium, party 1 gets
2 − x1 + u(x1) − u(x2), and
party 2 gets θ22 u(x
2 +x1 −u(x1), so that utility maximization
yields x1 = 0 and u0(x2) = 1 .

We now show that these budgets indeed define an equilibrium. Let us ruleout any possible deviation:
• If party 1 deviates to x, where x ≥ x2, the share of voters she gets
is always smaller or equal to the share of voters party 2 gets forany c (since θ2 > θ1, so her utility is zero. So, no such deviation isprofitable.

• If party 1 deviates to x, where x < x2, we have u(x) − x < u(x1) −
x1 < θu(x2) − x2, that is u(x) + x2 − x < θu(x2), by the envelopetheorem, given the definition of x1 and x2. In addition, we haveθu(x2) > θ x2 − x − u(x2), since 2u(x2) > x2.

From these two inequalities, we conclude that the last person whocasts a ballot votes for party 2. So, either party 1 never wins, inwhich case she gets 0, or she wins for c ≤ ˆ
c, in which case x1 is
optimal. No such deviation is profitable.

• If party 2 deviates to x, where x > x2, either S1 is always larger
than S2, which yields zero to party 2, or S1 and S2 intersect at ˆ
which case x2 is party 2's best response to x1. So, no such deviationis profitable.

• If party 2 deviates to x, where 0 < x < x2, since u(x) < 1 for any
x > 0, S2(c) < 1, so that S1 and S2 necessarily intersect at ˆ
case x = x2 is optimal. So, no such deviation is profitable.

Source: http://econ.biu.ac.il/files/economics/seminars/turnout.pdf

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