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Turnout Decline in Japan during the 1990s: Did Voters Lose Interests and Faith in Politics?

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Abstract:

Declining voter turnout remains to be an -unresolved dilemma' of democracy (Lijphart 1997), and Japan is not an exception. During the 1990s, voter turnout in Japanese national and subnational elections dramatically dropped by about ten percent points. Japanese journalists and commentators often claim that this sharp turnout decline is a result of Japanese voters losing their interests and faith in politics. This paper examines this claim using -cross-type' aggregate data: merged municipality-level electoral data from Japan's Lower House and prefectural assembly elections. Voters' psychological constructs cannot be observed using aggregate data, but I argue that with the cross-type electoral data, voter turnout in a different type of election can be used as a proxy variable for some unobservable factors and some variables specific to the different type of election as a valid set of instrumental variables. The two-stage least square estimates suggest that some unobservable changes, most likely psychological changes, indeed affected the turnout decline at the lower-level prefecture elections, but the turnout decline in the most salient Lower House elections is more a function of changes in incentive structures associated with the 1994 electoral reform.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

elect (245), turnout (174), voter (140), variabl (104), prefectur (91), 2 (85), 1 (73), nation (72), polit (63), model (59), di (57), chang (57), data (51), vote (51), declin (50), municip (47), type (47), use (43), elector (42), may (39), ratio (39),

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Keywords: turnout, Japan, trust, proxy variable, instrumental variable
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Name: American Political Science Association
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MLA Citation:

Horiuchi, Yusaku. "Turnout Decline in Japan during the 1990s: Did Voters Lose Interests and Faith in Politics?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts, Aug 28, 2002 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p66675_index.html>

APA Citation:

Horiuchi, Y. , 2002-08-28 "Turnout Decline in Japan during the 1990s: Did Voters Lose Interests and Faith in Politics?" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Boston Marriott Copley Place, Sheraton Boston & Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p66675_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: Declining voter turnout remains to be an -unresolved dilemma' of democracy (Lijphart 1997), and Japan is not an exception. During the 1990s, voter turnout in Japanese national and subnational elections dramatically dropped by about ten percent points. Japanese journalists and commentators often claim that this sharp turnout decline is a result of Japanese voters losing their interests and faith in politics. This paper examines this claim using -cross-type' aggregate data: merged municipality-level electoral data from Japan's Lower House and prefectural assembly elections. Voters' psychological constructs cannot be observed using aggregate data, but I argue that with the cross-type electoral data, voter turnout in a different type of election can be used as a proxy variable for some unobservable factors and some variables specific to the different type of election as a valid set of instrumental variables. The two-stage least square estimates suggest that some unobservable changes, most likely psychological changes, indeed affected the turnout decline at the lower-level prefecture elections, but the turnout decline in the most salient Lower House elections is more a function of changes in incentive structures associated with the 1994 electoral reform.

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Associated Document Available Political Research Online

Document Type: .pdf
Page count: 34
Word count: 9503
Text sample:
Turnout Decline in Japan during the 1990s: Did Voters Lose Interests and Faith in Politics? 1 Yusaku Horiuchi 2 Last Updated: August 16 2002 1 Paper prepared for delivery at the 2002 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association Boston August 28 ­ September 1 2002. Please do not cite without the author's permission. The author gratefully acknowledges the financial supports of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the National University of Singapore (R­108­ 000­008­112) and
(in log) 247.68 1.69 + # Apportionment in Prefectural Elections (in log) Same as Model 1 127.80 1.99 + # LDP Candidate Ratio in Prefectural Elections + # Prefectural­to­Municipal Subsidies Per Capita (in log) Dependent Variable: # Voter Turnout in Prefectural Elections (in log) # Closeness in National Elections (in log) 177.22 0.04 + # Apportionment in National Elections (in log) Same as Model 1 95.04 2.00 + # LDP Candidate Ratio in National Elections + # National­to­Municipal Subsidies


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