Compulsory Voting and TV News Consumption: Evidence from Brazil

Produced by: 
University of Sao Paulo
Available from: 
December 2015
Paper author(s): 
Raphael Bruce
Rafael Costa Lima
Topic: 
Methodology
Theory
Year: 
2016

Do people acquire more information when they are encouraged to participate in elections? This paper presents empirical evidence on the effects of compulsory voting laws on the consumption of TV news. In Brazil, the law determines that every literate citizen over the age of eighteen at the day of the election is subject to a number of penalties if they don’t attend the ballots. This provides a natural experiment which allows us to identify the causal effect of being under a compulsory voting regime on information acquisition. Using national survey data on the consumption of media we find that compulsory voting has a significant and substantial positive impact on the probability of an individual to watch Brazil’s main newscast. This result is restricted to young voters who just turned eighteen and is robust to different polynomials and bandwidth lengths.

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