Abstract

Context: This article untangles the effects of depression on voter turnout among blacks and whitesand among women and men and considers several factors—income, health insurance, church attendance, group consciousness, and empowerment—that may mitigate the negative effects of depression on turnout.

Methods: The authors estimated regression models of voter turnout on depression across race and gender groups using data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. They used interaction terms to assess whether the effect of depression is conditional on the potential mitigating factors.

Findings: Reporting increased depressive symptoms was associated with a lower probability of voting across electoral contexts for all respondents, and few factors mitigated this negative effect. Only in the case of black men did the authors find that a coethnic candidate mitigated the negative effect of depression, while a higher level of group consciousness did the opposite.

Conclusions: The effect of depression was strong, cut across racial and gender groups, and was generally robust to the effects of income, health insurance, church attendance, group consciousness, and empowerment. More research is required to understand how to reduce depression and improve turnout among those who experience it.

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