Public Choice

, Volume 156, Issue 3–4, pp 611–629 | Cite as

Public employees lining up at the polls—the conditional effect of living and working in the same municipality



Do public employees vote more frequently than private employees? The turnout of public employees has been of central interest to public choice scholars for almost a century. Utilizing a government records dataset that is not subject to over-reporting and differential social desirability bias, we find that public employees voted 11–12 percentage points more than their counterparts in the private sector. In a multivariate analysis, however, the effect is only four to five percentage points greater for local government public employees, which is in the lower range of previous studies. We are able to distinguish between local government and central government employees and show that the latter vote two percentage points less than the former. Controlling for the specific type of educational background does not explain the public–private turnout differential. Finally, the effect of working and voting in the same municipality is larger for local government employees than other citizens. This is in accordance with their greater incentives as they elect their future employer, though the effect size is surprisingly small.


Public employees Private employees Bureaucrats Turnout Public choice 



Earlier versions of this article were presented at seminars at the Danish Institute of Governmental Research and University of Copenhagen. We are also indebted to André Blais, Wouter van der Brug, Mark Franklin, Karina Kosiara-Pedersen, Asmus Leth Olsen and the anonymous reviewers for very useful comments and suggestions. Our gratitude also goes to The Danish Ministry for Refugee, Immigration and Integration Affairs and the Danish Ministry of Interior and Health for funding the project and to the participating municipalities for graciously providing the voter files free of charge. Jon Jay Neufeld proofread the manuscript. None of the individuals or institutions mentioned would necessarily endorse this study or should be held responsible for its content.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark

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