Policy-Induced Risk and Responsive Participation: The Effect of a Son’s Conscription Risk on the Voting Behavior of His Parents


Tiffany C. Davenport

Full citation: 
Tiffany C. Davenport (2014). The Effect of a Son’s Conscription Risk on the Voting Behavior of His Parents. American Journal of Political Science, DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12117
When do government policies induce responsive political participation? This study tests two hypotheses in the context of military draft policies. First, policy-induced risk motivates political participation. Second, contextual-level moderators, such as local events that make risk particularly salient, may intensify the effect of risk on participation. I use the random assignment of induction priority in the Vietnam draft lotteries to measure the effect of a son’s draft risk on the voter turnout of his parents in the 1972 presidential election. I find higher rates of turnout among parents of men with “losing” draft lottery numbers. Among parents from towns with at least one prior war casualty, I find a 7 to 9 percentage point effect of a son’s draft risk on his parents’ turnout. The local casualty contextual-level moderator is theorized to operate through the mechanism of an availability heuristic, whereby parents from towns with casualties could more readily imagine the adverse consequences of draft risk.
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New Hampshire
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