This experience was grueling at times, but I cannot begin to explain how rewarding it was. When I presented my research, it felt natural and my audience was actually interested in my topic. There are several things I have learned while doing my research. The following are the learning outcomes from my research:
- Improving my time management skills, since I had to juggle a part-time job, a full course load, and execute steps to further my research.
- Developing my critical thinking and writing skills by weeding through the past literature on young voting behavior and behavioral economics.
- Polishing my econometric and STATA application skills to perform my multiple regression analysis.
During this process, I was in constant contact with my mentor and other economic professors at Pace University to ensure I was doing each step correctly. Consolidating and interpreting my data was found to be the most difficult part so that is what I needed the most assistance with. This allowed me to not only gather data for the 2016 presidential election but for prior elections as well so that I could compare the results over time. The literature review was the most time-consuming part, but it helped me discover different factors that affect young voter turnout in the United States and gave me new ideas for variables to include in my paper. For a summary of my research, the following is my abstract:
This research paper examines factors that influence young adult voter behavior during the 2016 presidential election. Data was derived from the Current Population Survey, controlled for individuals ages 18 to 24. The cross-sectional data from the random sample of 8,433 people were then used to estimate the marginal probit regression model that tested certain voting factors’ impact on the probability to vote. Gender, education, race, and age were control variables in the model. The study focuses on different methods of registration, household income, and the duration of residence. The results found that registering to vote via the internet, registration drives, and at school are statistically significant and increase the probability of voting among young people more than other methods. Additionally, I introduce behavioral economic concepts, such as framing, anchoring, herding, etc., that could be applied to certain significant factors to increase young voter turnout. This allows further research to be conducted on the impact behavioral economics could have when targeting significant voting behavior factors.
Since behavioral economics is a relatively new field, there was a huge gap in studies done between economics and young voter behavior. The largest thing I have accomplished was shrinking that gap to allow for further research to be conducted.
To see a copy of my full paper in its entirety, follow this link: ECO 400_ Final Paper-1qwxxqw.
My research about young voter behavior is almost complete. I am still revising my paper, with the help of my faculty mentor, and I am about to start working on a presentation. Revising is easier said than done because of the constant changing parts and my lack of proper grammar skills. For example, in November there was the midterm Congressional election. Since my paper is heavily focused on voting behavior, I had to analyze the young voter turnout of this election and include it in my paper. In addition to that, when meeting with my faculty mentor, I realized I missed a test that I had to perform to make sure my data is correct. Once I performed this data check, I realized that there was something wrong with my data. However, with my mentor’s assistance, I fixed the problem. Since I found this out, I have to edit the results of my research and explain why this happened in the first place.
As my research progressed, I see a lot more responsibility on my end to polish my research paper. This is not like an ordinary paper where I can just hand in and be done with it because my research is an ongoing project. I have learned that data collection, analyzing data, and revising are difficult but necessary. I have also learned that my research does not have to be groundbreaking to be important. My research explains only a small percentage of reasons why young adults vote or not but still is imperative to analyze.
Since I am presenting my full research paper in December, I have had to act quickly and efficiently throughout the research process so far. Allocating time on my schedule was crucial to allowing my research to move forward. I attended meetings with my faculty mentor once a week to discuss what I have done and what needed to be done. I always thought of myself as an independent worker, but these weekly meetings acted as mini-deadlines, which kept me on track.
Writing my literature review was a challenge for me because I had to filter through past research and then critically analyze and write about it. I revised it a few times before settling on a final version of that specific part of my paper. Next, I looked for data and found it rather quickly because my topic of voter behavior is popular. I decided to use data from the U.S. Consensus Bureau because it had an abundance of quality data. However, the problem was that not all of the data was useful. In my paper, I specifically analyze voters and nonvoters from ages 18 to 24. This made consolidating data to fit my research almost impossible. Luckily, another professor caught wind of my dilemma and referred me to the data sets available from the Current Population Survey. This data allowed me to include the data I needed and exclude the data that I didn’t.
Since all of my data derived from this survey, another problem of using a lot of dummy variables arose. Using a lot of dummy variables could negatively affect my results. Luckily, I had a few continuous variables, such as age, income, and duration of residence, which offset the use of multiple dummy variables. Next, I had to regress my data using an application, called Stata, in order to determine what variables were significant. When analyzing my results I found that almost all of my variables were significant, but my data only explained 10% of the variation of my y variable. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I brainstormed new variables that could be included. When I regressed my data with three new variables, my data explained 25% of the variation of y. I was happy to see the increase. Initially, I was only focusing on data from 2016, but my faculty mentor suggested I do the same regression for prior years so that I can compare my results.
After I felt comfortable with my data, I wrote my first draft of my whole research paper. Now, I am awaiting feedback and revisions from my faculty mentor. Once I receive that, then I will have a lot of revisions to make and possibly brainstorm other ways to improve my study if time allows.
The title of my research is as followed: Voting Behavior Amongst Young Adults: An Analysis of Youth Nonvoters and how Behavioral Economic Concepts can be Applied to Increase Young Voter Turnout. The presidential election of 2016 displayed a poor voter turnout, especially among young adults. Yet, youth are heavily affected by policy changes politicians make. This research analysis seeks to first answer the question: What are the significant factors that discourage young voter turnout? Then, it will analyze behavioral economic concepts that could be applied to increase the voter turnout amongst that age group. Persuading young people to exercise their right to vote and to make more rational decisions towards voting will aid the issue of voter presence in presidential elections. Recent studies reveal that the effects of behavioral economics have a great impact on an individual’s decisions by using positive reinforcement and indirect suggestions. This study has three major objectives:
- To determine the factors that discourage the youth from voting within the United States.
- To discuss the rationality and irrationality of young voters decision making.
- To provide possible solutions using behavioral economic concepts to encourage young adults to vote.
For this study, it is necessary to gather recent exit poll data and analyze what the causal relationships between nonvoting and demographic factors, such as family income, gender, education, race, etc are. The Current Population Survey (CPS) derives from the monthly microdata of the United States Labor Force Survey. The CPS includes demographic information, employment data, and supplemental data, such as voter registration which makes it imperative to this study. After consolidating this data, I will conduct several statistical regression analysis’ about the factors that discourage people ages 18 to 24 to vote. First, I will examine the results for the presidential election in 2016 across all 50 states, then I will examine the results across several past presidential and congressional elections. Once I conclude what factors are positively or negatively significant, I will explain several behavioral economic concepts to ratify the issue of nonvoting amongst young people. Behavioral economics is a mixture of traditional economic theory and psychological theory. Concepts may include certain types of nudges, such as default options and anchoring approaches to encourage the youth to vote.
Learning what factors truly affect the youth’s decision to not vote is extremely important so that states can take action to eradicate the issue of low voter turnout. This research is sought to allow people to gain a different insight on the various ways we can target this issue through the use of the newly developed behavioral economic concepts.