Why do citizens choose to comply in democracies, even when coercion is limited? Existing answers focus on contractual trust or expected payoffs. I show that a different pathway exists in the ethical pull of the nation. A large literature in political theory argues that special communities, such as the nation, can instill an ethical obligation to the collective welfare, even in the absence of formal rules. I argue that when the identities of one’s nation and the state are seen as closely linked, this national obligation is politicized towards the state and motivates a sense of citizen duty to comply. Through statistical modeling and a pair of experiments in South Korea versus Taiwan – two otherwise similar democracies that contrast in nation-state linkage – I show that this ethical pathway is likely real and highly contextual. The findings help us better understand the varied bases of citizen compliance in democracies.
Defection from North Korea to South Korea has increased dramatically, but little is known of its political consequences. Do North Korean defectors successfully adopt democratic norms, and if so, what factors aid this process? Through a novel survey of defectors, I find that national identification plays a significant role in motivating their fledgling sense of democratic obligation. Greater feelings of national unity with South Koreans lead to a stronger duty to vote and otherwise contribute to the democratic state. This effect is more powerful than that of conventional contractual factors, on which most state resettlement policies are based, and is surprising given that defectors’ nationalist socialization mostly took place under the authoritarian North. The findings suggest the need to reconsider integration approaches toward North Korean defectors and similarly placed refugees elsewhere.
The duty to vote is a strong predictor of turnout, but little is known of its source, leaving much ambiguity around the nature of the motivation. This article shows that a powerful pathway lies in the ethical commitment many individuals feel to their nations. When the state is seen as an extension of one's national community, this national obligation is politicized toward state affairs, including the duty to vote. Conversely, when this linkage is weak or absent, an intrinsic duty to vote is weakened. By revising a key assumption in the traditional calculus of voting, I derive a statistical model to identify a nation-based, intrinsic duty to vote. The model is tested in Germany, where different experiences with unification in the East versus West yield contrasting predictions on an intrinsic duty to vote. The findings suggest new strategies for get-out-the-vote efforts to target the nationalistic source of the duty to vote.
The Voting and Registration Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS) employs a large sample size and has a very high response rate, and thus is often regarded as the gold standard among turnout surveys. In 2008, however, the CPS inaccurately estimated that presidential turnout had undergone a small decrease from 2004. We show that growing nonresponse plus a long-standing but idiosyncratic Census coding decision was responsible. We suggest that to cope with nonresponse and overreporting, users of the Voting Supplement sample should weight it to reflect actual state vote counts.
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