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Information Acquisition, Ideology and Turnout:Theory and Evidence from Britain

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  • Valentino Larcinese

Abstract

The amount of political information that voters decide to acquire during anelectoral campaign depends, among other things, on prior ideological beliefsabout parties and/or candidates. Voters that are ex ante indifferent about thecandidates attach little value to information because they perceive thatvoting itself will have little value. Voters that are ex ante very ideologicalalso attach little value to information because they think that the news willhardly change their opinion. Thus, high incentives to be informed can befound at intermediate levels of ideological strength. Moreover, the impact ofincreased political knowledge on turnout is asymmetric: New informationincrease the probability of voting of indifferent voters but decrease that ofvery ideological voters. These results are derived within a decisiontheoretical model of information acquisition and turnout that combines theRiker-Ordeshook (1968) approach to voting behaviour with the Becker(1965) approach to "personal production functions". These predictions arethen tested on survey data from the 1997 British Election Study. Ourempirical findings are compatible with all the results of the theoreticalexercise.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE in its series STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series with number 18.

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Date of creation: Mar 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cep:stipep:18

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Web page: http://sticerd.lse.ac.uk/_new/publications/default.asp

Related research

Keywords: elections; turnout; political knowledge; information; ideology; partisanship; political participation; mass media.;

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References

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  1. Milligan, Kevin & Moretti, Enrico & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2004. "Does education improve citizenship? Evidence from the United States and the United Kingdom," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(9-10), pages 1667-1695, August.
  2. Kevin Milligan & Enrico Moretti & Philip Oreopoulos, 2003. "Does Education Improve Citizenship? Evidence from the U.S. and the U.K," NBER Working Papers 9584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  4. Timothy Besley & Andrea Prat, 2006. "Handcuffs for the Grabbing Hand? Media Capture and Government Accountability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 720-736, June.
  5. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  6. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2000. "The political economy of government responsiveness: theory and evidence from India," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 2308, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  7. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191, 01.
  8. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191.
  9. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  10. Timothy J. Fedderson & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences," Discussion Papers 1195, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
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Cited by:
  1. Sobbrio, Francesco, 2014. "Citizen-editors' endogenous information acquisition and news accuracy," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 43-53.
  2. Bruce Blonigen, 2008. "New Evidence on the Formation of Trade Policy Preferences," NBER Working Papers 14627, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Sobbrio, Francesco & Navarra, Pietro, 2009. "Electoral Participation and Communicative Voting in Europe," MPRA Paper 18311, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. ALDASHEV, Gani, 2006. "Political information acquisition for social exchange," CORE Discussion Papers 2006020, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  5. Timothy Besley & Valentino Larcinese, 2011. "Working or shirking? Expenses and attendance in the UK Parliament," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 146(3), pages 291-317, March.
  6. Riccardo Puglisi & James M. Snyder, Jr., 2008. "Media Coverage of Political Scandals," NBER Working Papers 14598, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Valentino Larcinese, 2007. "Does political knowledge increase turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British general election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 387-411, June.
  8. Joseph McMurray, 2008. "Information and Voting: the Wisdom of the Experts versus the Wisdom of the Masses," Wallis Working Papers WP59, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  9. Francesco Drago & Tommaso Nannicini & Francesco Sobbrio, 2014. "Meet the Press: How Voters and Politicians Respond to Newspaper Entry and Exit," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 159-88, July.
  10. Kevin Denny & Patrick Orla Doyle, 2005. "Political Interest, Cognitive Ability and Personality - Determinants of Voter Turnout in Britain," Working Papers 200511, School Of Economics, University College Dublin.
  11. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  12. John Gasper, 2009. "Reporting for sale: the market for news coverage," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 493-508, December.

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