Remittances and Voter Participation: Evidence from Transition Economies

Cojocaru, Alexandru (2009). "Remittances and Voter Participation: Evidence from Transition Economies " Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

There is an extensive literature on the developmental impact of remittances, including poverty alleviation, educational outcomes and small business development. This paper explores, in turn, the largely ignored relationship between remittances and political participation of recipient households. In particular, I investigate the effect of remittances on the propensity of recipients to vote in national elections, relying on individual-level data from the Life in Transition Survey for a sample of 20 transition economies with elections in 2005 and 2006. I find that reliance on remittances as the main livelihood source has a negative effect on recipients' voting in national elections. I argue that this negative effect is the outcome of the counter-cyclical nature of remittances from abroad. I further explore alternative explanations for the negative association between remittances and voting, such as whether reliance on remittances could just be a manifestation of underlying characteristics of disenchanted voters who abstain from voting due to general loss of confidence in the government, but I do not find support for this alternative claim.
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