Political Behavior

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 357–373 | Cite as

Education and Political Participation: Exploring the Causal Link

  • Adam J. Berinsky
  • Gabriel S. Lenz
Original Paper


One of the most consistently documented relationships in the field of political behavior is the close association between educational attainment and political participation. Although most research assumes that this association arises because education causes participation, it could also arise because education proxies for the factors that lead to political engagement: the kinds of people who participate in politics may be the kinds of people who tend to stay in school. To test for a causal effect of education, we exploit the rise in education levels among males induced by the Vietnam draft. We find little reliable evidence that education induced by the draft significantly increases participation rates.


Turnout Voting Education 



We thank Anthony Fowler, Diana Moore, and Mike Myers for research assistance and David Card, Daniel Parent, Cindy Kam, Bo MacInnis, and Marc Meredith for helpful discussion and comments. We also thank Mike Hanmer for providing his CPS data recodes. Berinsky thanks the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences for research support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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