Political Behavior

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 199–213 | Cite as

Disenfranchisement Through Divorce? Estimating the Effect of Parental Absence on Voter Turnout

  • Michael W. SancesEmail author
Original Paper


Does growing up without both parents decrease voter turnout? I extend and improve upon earlier answers to this question. First, I estimate the long-term effects on voter turnout via analysis of a nationally representative sample of adults. Second, I exploit the quasi-natural experiment of parental death to correct for non-random selection into parental absence. Contrary to previous research, I find no evidence that growing up in an absent-parent household effects white voter turnout. I also present evidence suggesting the negative effects are limited to black voters.


Political socialization Turnout Inequality 



I thank Adam Berinsky, Andrea Campbell, Anthony Fowler, Jens Hainmueller, Maia Hajj, Orit Kedar, Gabriel Lenz, Krista Loose, Michele Margolis, three anonymous reviewers, and the editors for helpful comments and discussion. I am responsible for any remaining errors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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