Internal Seminar: Enrico Cantoni

Title: "Where You Grow Up Shapes Your Political Behavior: Evidence from Childhood Moves"

  • Date: 13 September 2023 from 13:00 to 14:00

  • Event location: Auditorium - Piazza Scaravilli, 1 + Microsoft Teams Meeting


This paper asks how our political behavior is shaped by where we grow up. We measure young voters’ participation and party affiliation in nationally comprehensive voter files and reconstruct their childhood location histories based on their parents’ addresses. We compare outcomes of individuals who moved between the same origin and destination counties but at different ages. Individuals who spend more time in the destination are more influenced by it: Growing up in a county where their peers are 10 percentage points more likely to become Republicans makes them 4.7 percentage points more likely to become Republican themselves upon entering the electorate. The effects are of similar magnitude for Democratic partisanship and turnout in the first election. These exposure effects are primarily driven by teenage years, and they persist but decay after the first election. They reflect both state-level factors and factors varying at a smaller scale such as peer effects.