IZA DP No. 11082: Youth Enfranchisement, Political Responsiveness and Education Expenditure: Evidence from the U.S.
published in: American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 12, 2020, 1-32
This paper studies the effect of preregistration laws on government spending in the U.S. Preregistration allows young citizens to register before being eligible to vote and has been introduced in different states in different years. Employing a difference-in-differences regression design, we first establish that preregistration shifts state-level government spending toward expenditure on higher education. The magnitude of the increase is larger when political competition is weaker and inequality is higher. Second, we document a positive effect of preregistration on state-provided student aid and its number of recipients by comparing higher education institutions within border-county pairs. Lastly, using individual-level data on voting records, we show that preregistration promotes a de facto youth enfranchisement episode. Consistent with a political economy model of distributive politics, the results collectively suggest strong political responsiveness to the needs of the newly-enfranchised constituent group.