French Politics

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 106–127 | Cite as

Patrimony, class, and participation: French elections (1988–2012)

  • Richard NadeauEmail author
  • Michael S. Lewis-Beck
  • Martial Foucault
  • Bruno Jérôme
Data, Measures and Methods


Perhaps no variable in political science has received more attention than electoral participation. Despite, or because of, the great amount of research on this topic, significant new determinants for electoral participation have not been recently forthcoming. Here we offer a significant new determinant – patrimony. For theoretical reasons, we expect a voter’s wealth portfolio to influence their turnout. We test these ideas using a battery of asset items asked in French election surveys. Our finding is that voters who possess more patrimony are more likely to vote. The strength of this patrimonial effect rivals the influence of the strongest traditional predictors, such as political interest. Finally, patrimonial effects seem able to subsume, even replace, the traditional class effects from income, occupation, and education. This pivotal empirical, as well as theoretical, role of patrimony suggests serious revision in the explanation of how socioeconomic forces shape electoral participation.


participation patrimony income class French presidential elections 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Nadeau
    • 1
    Email author
  • Michael S. Lewis-Beck
    • 2
  • Martial Foucault
    • 3
  • Bruno Jérôme
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversité de MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.CEVIPOFParisFrance
  4. 4.Université Paris IIParisFrance

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