Understanding voter turnout among the youth: evidence from Chile
Last registered on July 23, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Understanding voter turnout among the youth: evidence from Chile
Initial registration date
July 22, 2018
Last updated
July 23, 2018 1:25 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
Princeton University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Universidad Adolfo Ibanez
PI Affiliation
Columbia University
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Voter turnout has been consistently decreasing in Chile over time, specially among less affluent young people. Participation rates went even lower after the implementation of voluntary voting in 2012 (Corvalán et al 2013). In this context, exploring strategies to increase turnout have become of paramount importance to strengthen our democracy. This project implements a behavioral experiment based on get-out-to-vote strategies (Gerber & Green, 2000) in Chile. These strategies have been developed and applied successfully in other countries with voluntary voting, like the U.S. The evidence suggests that voter turnout can increase interventions such as canvassing, mails or text-messages (see Gerber & Green, 2000, 2008, 2015), which is what this project wants to test for the Chilean case. We also test whether skills, distance, socioeconomic status explain voter turnout to the greatest extent.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Argote, Pablo, Sebastian Gallegos and Luis Valenzuela. 2018. "Understanding voter turnout among the youth: evidence from Chile." AEA RCT Registry. July 23. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2463/history/32044
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Experimental Details
We sent three text-messages before the Chilean presidential election of November 19, 2017, and three more messages before the runoff of December 19th. The messages attempted to encourage youngsters to vote, by either providing them relevant information or by appealing to their desire of being represented in government. More specifically, we sent the following messages:

Text Message 1
Hi [NAME]! In the last election, just X% of the young people in your municipality voted. Find out where you vote here: [link]

Here, the idea was to see whether the information of turnout rates in the past election could affect the decision to vote. It is worth noting that in Chilean municipal election of 2016 (the "last election" alluded in the message), turnout rates among the youth were very low. In this sense, we thought that the less youngsters voted in the past, more compelled they would feel to vote in the next election.

Text Message 2
Hi [NAME]! If the young people don’t vote, others are going to choose instead! Participate in the elections this Sunday.

In this message, we wanted to appeal to their desire of being represent in government decision-making, by participating in the election.

Text Message 3
Hi [NAME]! Today is election day! At what time do you go vote?

In this third message, the idea was to prime voters to think about when they vote, and therefore, plan the day accordingly.

For the runoff of December 19, we sent the same messages, but to half of the treated units, in order to see whether there is an effect of receiving messages for both elections and to analyze if the messages of the first-round had a durable effect towards the runoff.

As an additional exercise, we implemented a survey-experiment as follows. In an ex-post survey (after the runoff) we randomized the way of asking voters wether they actually voted, along the lines of Della Vigna et al (2017). Essentially, we reduced costs of lying to one group, by telling them that the survey was going to be much shorter if they did not vote. We aim to compare their self-reported answers with the actual administrative data on turnout, which will provide us a measure of how much voters lie (if they do) about their electoral participation.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) Individual-level voter turnout: indicator variable equals to 1 if the subject voted in the 2017 Chilean presidential election and 0 otherwise.
2) Self-reported voter turnout: indicator variable equals to 1 if the subject reported having voted in the 2017 Chilean presidential election and 0 otherwise.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Self-reported vote choice: set of indicator variables equal to 1 if the subject reported having voted for a particular candidate and 0 otherwise.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We designed and implemented a field experiment to test the effectiveness of a set of low-cost behavioral tools in increasing youth turnout.
Our sample of 3,006 youngsters was composed by voters who live in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago, Chile. Eligible voters were registered to vote in new ballot boxes in the presidential election of 2017 in six municipalities, stratified by electoral booth. The six municipalities were located throughout the city, ensuring socioeconomic diversity. We randomized half of the individuals to a treatment group and half to a control group. All registrants had a mobile phone number, but whether those were valid or not would unravel only after trying to reach them out with our SMS-intervention.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done by a computer (with replicable code).
Randomization Unit
Individuals, stratified by municipality and electoral booth.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
20 ballot boxes.
Sample size: planned number of observations
3006 voters.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
1499 individuals the treatment group, 1507 in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We assumed a two-sided hypothesis test with a 5% significance level, a desired power of 80%, and that equally-sized groups to compute the sample size required to detect a minimum detertable effect size of five percentage points.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB Name
Princeton University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers