COVID-19 Vaccination Rates and Political Party Affiliation in Norway - An Empirical Analysis of Voting Patterns and Vaccine Rejection
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- Master Thesis 
Vaccines are widely accepted as one of the most effective means in combating contagious diseases due to their health- and economic benefits both on individual- and societal levels. As politicisation of vaccines has proven prominent throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in several Western countries, this paper examines the relationship between vaccination rates and political affiliation in Norway. Data on vaccination rates and votes measured on a municipal level are drawn from publicly available sources. The same can be said for socioeconomic factors which are included as control variables. With a theoretical foundation of social identity theory, we use Inglehart & Norris’ (2016) heuristic model of party competition in Western societies to identify and classify Norwegian political parties into constellations of similar characteristics. We hypothesise that voters of different party constellations will show different COVID-19 vaccination rates. By using OLS regression models, we find that voting for political parties with no governmental history is associated with significantly lower vaccination rates. We also find a negative relationship between vaccination rates and perceived political distance to historically governing parties amongst the non-governing parties. In particular on the political right this effect is significant and robust for controls. Although voting for the parties furthest to the political left show a negative relationship with vaccination rates compared to historically governing parties, this result is sensitive to precise party classification. The results coincide with social identity theory and previous literature in other Western countries. If voters belong to what they perceive as an out-group to those in governing power, they are more likely to hold negative attitudes towards public recommendations from governing organs and -agencies, and thus vaccinate less. As this effect is stronger for voters of parties further away from the governing parties, we conclude that the degree of belonging to an out-group also matters.