Eviction and Voter Turnout: The Political Consequences of Housing Instability

Gillian Slee, Matthew Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In recent years, housing costs have outpaced incomes in the United States, resulting in millions of eviction filings each year. Yet no study has examined the link between eviction and voting. Drawing on a novel data set that combines tens of millions of eviction and voting records, this article finds that residential eviction rates negatively impacted voter turnout during the 2016 presidential election. Results from a generalized additive model show eviction’s effect on voter turnout to be strongest in neighborhoods with relatively low rates of displacement. To address endogeneity bias and estimate the causal effect of eviction on voting, the analysis treats commercial evictions as an instrument for residential evictions, finding that increases in neighborhood eviction rates led to substantial declines in voter turnout. This study demonstrates that the impact of eviction reverberates far beyond housing loss, affecting democratic participation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPolitics and Society
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations

Keywords

  • eviction
  • housing
  • inequality
  • neighborhoods
  • voting

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