This project has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 320294


Examining Tingsten’s Law of Dispersion: Can Higher Turnout Reduce Political Inequality?

September 14, 2015

Author: Michal Novy, Masaryk University, Czech Republic



Since some people are engaged in politics through their votes and others are not, it could be said that participation in elections is unequal. Many scholars argue that those who cast a ballot are mostly the socially privileged, and hence, policies enacted through legislative bodies are biased in favor of advantaged segments of society. According to Herbert Tingsten’s law of dispersion, originated in the 1930s, there might be a close relationship between the levels of voter turnout and political inequality: the higher the turnout, the lower the level of inequality. From this point of view, this study examines whether the countries which show high turnout rates are these where the level of political inequality is the lowest possible, and vice-versa. In order to get an adequate answer, the empirical analysis that utilizes the data from the European Social Survey (Rounds 4-6) is introduced below. Its results signify that Tingsten’s supposition is far from being a universal pattern of political behavior.


Download the full paper: Novy_Tingsten_s_law