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Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?

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  • Cesar Martinelli

    ()
    (Centro de Investigacion Economica (CIE), Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM))

Abstract

We analyze an election in which voters are uncertain about which of two alternatives is better for them. Voters can, however, acquire some costly information about the alternatives. As the number of voters increases, individual investment in political information declines to zero. However, the election outcome is likely to correspond to the interest of the majority if the marginal cost of information acquisition approaches zero as the information acquired becomes nearly irrelevant. Under certain conditions, the election outcome corresponds to the interests of the majority with probability approaching one. Thus, "rationally ignorant" voters are consistent with a well-informed electorate. JEL D72, D82. Keywords: voting, information acquisition, information aggregation.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM in its series Working Papers with number 0210.

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Length: 19 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2002
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cie:wpaper:0210

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Keywords: voting; information acquisition; information aggregation;

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  1. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1994. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Discussion Papers 1117, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Grossman, Gene M & Helpman, Elhanan, 1996. "Electoral Competition and Special Interest Politics," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(2), pages 265-86, April.
  3. Akerlof, George A & Yellen, Janet L, 1985. "Can Small Deviations from Rationality Make Significant Differences to Economic Equilibria?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(4), pages 708-20, September.
  4. Andreoni, James, 1988. "Privately provided public goods in a large economy: The limits of altruism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(1), pages 57-73, February.
  5. John Duggan & Cesar Martinelli, 1998. "A Bayesian Model of Voting in Juries," Wallis Working Papers WP14, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  6. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191, 01.
  7. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
  8. Wittman, Donald, 1989. "Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(6), pages 1395-1424, December.
  9. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  10. George A. Akerlof, 1989. "The Economics Of Illusion," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(1), pages 1-15, 03.
  11. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2003. "Putting Your Ballot Where you Mouth Is: An Analysis of Collective Choice," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000280, David K. Levine.
  12. Kaushik Mukhopadhaya, 2003. "Jury Size and the Free Rider Problem," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 24-44, April.
  13. David Austen-Smith & Tim Feddersen, 2002. "Deliberation and Voting Rules," Discussion Papers 1359, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  14. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2003. "Putting Your Ballot Where Your Mouth Is: An Analysis of Collective Choice with Communication," UCLA Economics Working Papers 827, UCLA Department of Economics.
  15. Coate, Stephen & Morris, Stephen, 1995. "On the Form of Transfers in Special Interests," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 103(6), pages 1210-35, December.
  16. Becker, Gary S, 1983. "A Theory of Competition among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400, August.
  17. Becker, Gary S., 1985. "Public policies, pressure groups, and dead weight costs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 329-347, December.
  18. Ronny Razin, 2003. "Signaling and Election Motivations in a Voting Model with Common Values and Responsive Candidates," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(4), pages 1083-1119, 07.
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