Do Lower Wages and Higher Unemployment Increase Voter Turnout?

A recent study by Kerwin Kofi Charles and Melvin Stephens Jr argues that increases in wages and employment reduce voter turnout in gubernatorial elections, though not in presidential contests.

From the abstract:

This paper argues that, since activities that provide political information are complementary with leisure, increased labor market activity should lower turnout, but should do so least in prominent elections where information is ubiquitous. Using official county-level voting data and a variety of OLS and TSLS models, we find that increases in wages and employment: reduce voter turnout in gubernatorial elections by a significant amount; have no effect on Presidential turnout; and raise the share of persons voting in a Presidential election who do not vote on a House of Representative election on the same ballot.

The Ten Commandments of The American Religion

This is a cross-post from James Altucher‘s blog Altucher Confidential. His previous appearances on the Freakonomics blog can be found here.

If I stood in the center of Times Square and said something like “Moses didn’t really part the Red Sea,” or “Jesus never existed,” people would probably keep walking around me, ignoring what I said.

But if I stood there and said, “Going to college is the worst sin you can force your kids to commit,” or “You should never vote again,” or "Never own a home," people would probably stop, and maybe I‘d lynched. But I would’ve at least gotten their attention. How? By knocking down a few of the basic tenets of what I call the American Religion.

It’s a fickle and false religion, used to replace the ideologies we (a country of immigrants) escaped. Random high priests lurk all over the Internet, ready to pounce. Below are the Ten Commandments of the American Religion, as I see them. If you think there are more, list them in the comments.

The below is an excerpt from my just released book, I Was Blind But Now I Can See.

How Liberal Do You Think You Are?

Voters "misperceive where they lie on the ideological spectrum."

What's More Likely: That Your Vote Will Matter or That You'll Help Discover Extraterrestrial Life?

Here's an e-mail from a reader named Nadaav Zohar of Akron, Ohio. I like the way he thinks.

Every election season, I can usually count on a Freakonomics blog entry or three about voting and why it is pointless. I very much agree with your analysis, and I don't vote.

The Cost of Opposing Hugo Chavez

An important new working paper by Chang-Tai Hsieh, Edward Miguel, Daniel Ortega, and Francisco Rodríguez examines whether Hugo Chavez opposition voters in Venezuela paid a price for their opposition. Between late 2002 and August 2004, more than 4.7 million Venezuelans signed petitions in favor of a recall election for Chavez despite widespread threats that signers […]

Akhil Amar Got There First

Once again, Catherine Rampell has an interesting Economix post (“Minority Rules: Sex Ratios and Suffrage”) describing a new empirical analysis arguing that “jurisdictions that granted women the right to vote earlier generally had lower concentrations of women.” Why? [M]en had much to lose by enfranchising women. … The relative scarcity of women in the West […]

Time's 100 Most Influential People

For the last few years, Time magazine has compiled a list of the 100 people who “shape our world.” In the past, they’ve made some pretty questionable choices. Economists have not figured very prominently on the previous lists; there has been roughly one economist in the top 100 per year, including people like Jeff Sachs […]

Finalists for the New U.S. Six-Word Motto

We recently solicited your suggestions for a new six-word motto for the U.S. (Yes, this is a reprise of last year’s contest.) As always, you came through brilliantly, with more than 300 submissions. Here are our choices for the six finalists: 1. Consumption’s the Cure That Ails Us. (Submitted by Quin.) 2. We Will Get […]

Can't Anyone in This State Get Elected?

Now that New York Governor David Paterson has appointed Kirsten Gillibrand to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, here’s a strange fact to consider: There are six positions in New York State for which statewide elections are held: governor, lieutenant governor, the two U.S. senators, attorney general, and comptroller. […]

Will Obama Reduce the Chance That You Are Called for Jury Duty?

Photo: Tom Lemo One of the changes that the “Yes We Can” movement has already wrought is a substantial increase in voter registration — particularly in swing states. In Virginia, for example, the number of registered voters increased by almost 10 percent. Since voter-registration lists are also used to construct juror lists, a possible benefit […]