Candidates’ Education and Turnout: Evidence from Italian Municipal Elections

Research paper by Marco Alberto De Benedetto, Maria De Paola

Indexed on: 09 Mar '16Published on: 16 Nov '15Published in: German Economic Review


We analyze the impact that the educational level of candidates running for the position of mayor has on electoral turnout by using a large dataset for Italian municipal elections held between 1993 and 2011. We firstly estimate a municipality fixed effects model and show that the median education of candidates standing in an election is positively correlated with turnout. To handle endogeneity issues arising from the unobservable time variant features of electoral races, we build on the literature which shows that politicians’ educational level is positively affected by their wage and apply a Fuzzy Regression Discontinuity Design on the basis of the fact that the wages of mayors in Italy increase non‐monotonically at different thresholds. Results show that an exogenous increase in the median educational level of candidates, induced by a higher wage, leads to an increase in turnout of about 1 percentage point.