July 2020

IZA DP No. 13442: Voting and Political Participation in the Aftermath of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Hani Mansour, Daniel I. Rees, James Reeves

This is the first study to examine the effect of experiencing a widespread, deadly epidemic on voting behavior. Using data on elections to the U.S House of Representatives and leveraging cross-district variation in HIV/AIDS mortality during the period 1983-1987, we document the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on votes received by Democratic and Republican candidates. Beginning with the 1994 elections, there is a strong, positive association between HIV/AIDS mortality and the vote share received by Democratic candidates. Congressional districts that bore the brunt of the HIV/AIDS epidemic also saw substantial increases in Democratic voter turnout and contributions made to Democratic candidates.