From Green Users to Green Voters

by Diego Comin & Johannes Rode

Overview — Does the diffusion of technology affect voting patterns? Technology is usually not aligned with a specific ideology or political party. Indeed, to the extent that technology raises living standards, all parties tend to favor technology diffusion. However, in some cases, voters may associate a political party with a specific technology. Green parties, for example, advocate for the diffusion of green energy technologies and pursue policies that foster the diffusion of green energies. This paper finds a significant effect of photovoltaic (PV) adoption on the increase in the share of votes for Germany's Green Party. In particular, the increase in the diffusion rate of PV systems between 1998 and 2009 led to an increase in the fraction of green votes of 1 percent, which represents 25 percent of the actual increase in the voting rate experienced by the Green Party between 1998 and 2009. Key concepts include:

  • This study uncovered the impact that the diffusion of PV systems has on the votes obtained by Germany's Green Party.
  • Individuals that use green technologies are more likely to become Green Party voters.
  • Approximately a quarter of the increase in the share of votes experienced by the Green Party between 1998 and 2009 is driven by the diffusion of PV systems.
  • In contrast, there were no such effects from the diffusion of industrial PV systems and eolic systems. This contrast confirms the importance of voters' direct involvement with the adoption and/or operation of the technology for this to affect their voting patterns.

Author Abstract

We estimate the effect of the diffusion of photovoltaic (PV) systems on the fraction of votes obtained by the German Green Party. The logistic diffusion of PV systems offers a new identification strategy. We take first differences and instrument adoption rates (i.e., the first difference in the diffusion level) by lagged diffusion levels. The existing rationales for non-linearities in diffusion and the ubiquity of logistic curves ensure that our instrument is orthogonal to variables that directly affect voting patterns. We find that the diffusion of domestic PV systems caused 25% of the increment in green votes between 1998 and 2009.

Paper Information