Explaining social-class inequality in voter turnout: the contribution of income and health

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Occupation-based social class is an important, yet under-explored, factor in electoral participation. In this article, social class differences in voter turnout over time are measured, and how two other resources – namely income and health – mediate or modify this relationship is analysed. The analysis is based on an individual-level register-based 11 percent sample of the entire electorate in the 1999 Finnish parliamentary elections, and secondarily on smaller register-based samples in the 2012 presidential and municipal elections. Results show that income mediates part of the effects of social class on voting, while social class and utilised health indicators exert mainly independent effects on turnout. Social class differences remain largely stable in all income and hospital care groups, except that no differences between classes are observed among those most severely affected by health problems. Results are also mostly similar between those of working age and the older population, and between men and women, and remain stable over time and in different types of elections. The findings imply that social class should be taken account in theoretical and empirical models of turnout.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Political Studies
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)388-410
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 517 Political science

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