Friday, October 14, 2016

Who Voted for Brexit? A Comprehensive District-Level Analysis [PDF]
On 23 June 2016, the British electorate voted to leave the European Union. We analyze vote and turnout shares across 380 local authority areas in the United Kingdom. We find that fundamental characteristics of the voting population were key drivers of the Vote Leave share, in particular their age and education profiles as well as the historical importance of manufacturing employment, low income and high unemployment. Migration was relevant only from Eastern European countries, not from older EU states or non-EU countries. We also find an important role for fiscal cuts being associated with Vote Leave. Our results indicate that modest reductions in fiscal cuts could have swayed the referendum outcome. In contrast, even drastic changes in immigration patterns would probably not have made a difference. We confirm the above findings at the much finer level of wards within cities. Our results cast doubt on the notion that short-term campaigning events had a meaningful influence on the vote.
The paper was revised in April 2017
This is the updated abstract
On 23 June 2016, the British electorate voted to leave the European Union. We an- alyze vote and turnout shares across 380 local authority areas in the United King- dom. We find that exposure to the EU in terms of immigration and trade provides relatively little explanatory power for the referendum vote. Instead, we find that fundamental characteristics of the voting population were key drivers of the Vote Leave share, in particular their education profiles, their historical dependence on manufacturing employment as well as low income and high unemployment. At the much finer level of wards within cities, we find that areas with deprivation in terms of education, income and employment were more likely to vote Leave. Our results indicate that a higher turnout of younger voters, who were more likely to vote Remain, would not have overturned the referendum result.

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