Do elections make you sick?

Yes basically, at least in Taiwan:

Anecdotal reports and small-scale studies suggest that elections are stressful, and might lead to a deterioration in voters’ mental well-being. Nonetheless, researchers have yet to establish whether elections actually make people sick, and if so, why. By applying a regression discontinuity design to administrative health care claims from Taiwan, we determine that elections increased health care use and expense only during legally specified campaign periods by as much as 19%. Overall, the treatment cost of illness caused by elections exceeded publicly reported levels of campaign expenditure, and accounted for 2% of total national health care costs during the campaign period.

That is from a new paper by Hung-Hao Chang and Chad Meyerhoefer.


Isn't it the uncertain outcome of elections that causes stress and illness? If that's correct, then "elections" in places like Russia should produce less stress and illness. Indeed, in polarized America, elections of local and regional races should produce little stress (since the outcome is not in doubt), whereas a national (presidential) election should produce stress and illness (since the outcome is in doubt). Thus it's not surprising that every four years folks in the U.S. go insane.

As an offsetting avoided cost, what are the health consequences of long term political repression and a lack of political accountability?

Another RD design with polynomial fits a and claims of a sensitivity analysis because they got the same results with a link function. Also, the intro has some really sloppy conclusions (elections -> increase cortisol -> cortisol does all sorts of bad health things, elections -> make people sick) . Better I guess than nothing, and it *feels* like science, so I guess it's worth it in entertainment value. I don't know if it merits the comment "yes, basically."

Yes, basically it is entertainment.

Where is CWTeam when you need them?

Ezra Klein has a long excerpt from his new book at Vox which I highly recommend. It includes a good summary of his thesis (about political polarization). One part that really got my attention is a reference to a study that was intended to prove that if only people got out of their cocoons, polarization would subside and we'd all get along, but proved the opposite. Klein:

"The result of the month-long exposure to popular, authoritative voices from the other side of the aisle was that respondents became more, not less, polarized. “We find that Republicans who followed a liberal Twitter bot became substantially more conservative posttreatment,” write the authors. “Democrats exhibited slight increases in liberal attitudes after following a conservative Twitter bot, although these effects are not statistically significant.” '.

I read this blog because it's interesting and informative, but also to get a somewhat different view. And I believe I've moved toward Cowen's and Tabarrok's views, which is the opposite of the findings in the study Klein refers to. I suspect that it's because Cowen and Tabarrok don't bash readers over the head: they have easy going styles. Now, that probably wouldn't work for a politician, but it works for a professor whose goal is to impart knowledge not convert heretics.

"I suspect that it's because Cowen and Tabarrok don't bash readers over the head"

Good point. They don't call people names and they go easy on the F-bombs.

Half the country has had a severe mental illness since the 2016 election, so I'd say it's not limited to Taiwan.

I am not sure Taiwan is the best example: Every time they hold an election, China threatens them with invasion. The Taiwanese don't want to vote for a communist China puppet, but they also don't want to be annihilated. Stressful.

The consequence of the recent UK General Election was huge bursts of laughter from Leavers and Tories, and hysterical sobbing from Socialists and Quislings.

Seems a good outcome to me.

What this place needs is more dignity, and values. Dignity and values.

Clearly, for the sake of public health, elections/democracy should be banned, "at least in Taiwan".

cui bono

There is another side to this. I can not tolerate watching or listening to news while this election cycle nears. Which actually worries me somewhat that I will miss out on actual news since I basically end up getting news from friends and family. If you want to be a good citizen you need to be informed. But in order to be informed you need to be driven crazy by polarized information flow. And a good citizen is by necessity not crazy! It's a catch 22.

Since we seem to be in a constant election cycle, I quit following the news entirely. I read some blogs and I scan the headlines online only to see if anything actually important has happened that might affect me.

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