Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 17 > Issue 1

Parents, Infants, and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the United States

Angela Cools, Department of Economics, Davidson College, USA, ancools@davidson.edu
Suggested Citation
Angela Cools (2022), "Parents, Infants, and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the United States", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 17: No. 1, pp 91-119. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00020072

Publication Date: 24 Jan 2022
© 2022 A. Cools
Elections,  Political participation
Voter turnoutgender gaplife transitions


Open Access

This is published under the terms of CC-BY.

In this article:
Theoretical Overview 
Baseline Results 
State Voting Systems 


Despite evidence that infants affect families' economic and social behaviors, little is known about how young children influence their parents' political engagement. I show that U.S. women with an infant during an election year are 3.5 percentage points less likely to vote than women without children; men with an infant are 2.2 percentage points less likely to vote. Suggesting that this effect may be causal, I find no significant decreases in turnout the year before parents have an infant. Using a triple-difference approach, I then show that universal vote-by-mail systems mitigate the negative association between infants and mothers' turnout.