Is there an expressive function of law? An empirical analysis of voting laws with symbolic fines

  • Funk P
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This article empirically investigates whether law affects behavior beyond deterrence ("expressive function of law"). With Swiss panel data, I find that the legal abolition of the voting duty significantly decreased average turnout, even though the fines for not voting have only been symbolic. As for the size of Cantonal turnout reduction, it widely differs between the Cantons and is highly correlated with voter participation before the removal of the voting duty. In contrast to the voting duty, the introduction of postal voting did not affect voter turnout in spite of the substantial decrease in transaction costs. Therefore, in public good areas such as voting, even a sanctionless law targeting at the civic duty might have a bigger impact on behavior than actions which affect the costs of provision for the public good. © The Author 2007. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Law and Economics Association.

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  • Patricia Funk

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