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ESS data used

Round 4, Round 8: Germany

Original title Eine empirische Studie zum Einfluss des individuellen Gesundheitszustands auf die Parteipräferenz bei demokratischen Wahlen
English title An empirical analysis regarding the influence of individual health on party voting in democratic elections
Language German
Type Thesis/dissertation
Year 2018


Individual level health variables have gained importance in the social sciences in the last decades. With electorates of most industrialized countries growing older and chronic diseases being an increasing challenge for public health, political scientists have sought to understand possible links between one’s health condition and political participation. Strong cross-border evidence suggests that poor health operationalized by self-assessment or clinical measures lowers a person’s probability to vote in democratic elections and also effects other types of political participation. This, in turn, could lead to an inferior democratic representation of these people. However, only few studies explore how negative health evaluation affects political preferences and consequent party preferences in democratic elections. Employing data from the ESS4 and the ESS8 this study investigates for the first time on a large sample basis how subjective individual health variables affect the party preferences of German participants in nation-wide elections (“Bundestagswahlen”). Building on a rational voter model it is assumed that those who report poor health or health restraints should favor parties which embrace social welfare as public service provision is crucial for this segment of the population. Accordingly, multinomial logistic estimations show that a negative health evaluation decreases the probability to cast a vote for parties which support public welfare to a lesser degree than competitors and increases the voting probability of the social democratic party which is widely seen as an historic advocate of social security schemes in Germany. Furthermore, there is evidence that the influence of individual health on voting is contingent to the current political context in which the election takes place. Party positions on social welfare could serve as political cues helping people with health issues adjust electoral decisions considering their medical conditions. These results should encourage political scientists to explore links of individual health and political preferences in other countries and include health variables in their studies more frequently.

Awarding institutionDepartment of Political Science, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Number of pages122
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