Acta Politica

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 429–447 | Cite as

Sick leave from work and the voting booth? A register-based study on health and turnout

  • Mikko Mattila
  • Hanna Wass
  • Hannu Lahtinen
  • Pekka Martikainen
Original Article


Previous studies show that people with poor health have a lower propensity to vote. With individual-level register data on sickness allowance episodes and voting in three Finnish elections, we address the following questions: (1) What degree of sickness allowance days negatively influences turnout? (2) Are sickness absences on election day more harmful than absences that occur before the elections? (3) What is the effect of cumulative sickness allowance spells before the elections over a period of several years? We use a threefold categorisation approach, which differentiates between immediate, short-term and long-term health effects on voting. The results show that multiple sickness allowance spells over several years are more strongly connected to turnout than health problems experienced only in the year prior to the elections. Falling ill at the time of the elections had no consistent additional negative relationship with voting. We suggest that the demobilising effects of immediate health problems are associated with tangible factors, while long-term effects are related to lowered levels of political efficacy, interest and social connectedness.


Health Turnout Voting Finland 



This work was supported by the Academy of Finland under Grant Nos. 266844 and 273433.

Supplementary material

41269_2017_62_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mikko Mattila
    • 1
  • Hanna Wass
    • 1
  • Hannu Lahtinen
    • 2
  • Pekka Martikainen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Political and Economic StudiesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Population Research Unit, Department of Social ResearchUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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