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Rational Ignorance and Voting Behavior

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  • César Martinelli

Abstract

We model a two-alternative election in which voters may acquire information about which is the best alternative for all voters. Voters differ in their cost of acquiring information. We show that as the number of voters increases, the fraction of voters who acquire information declines to zero. However, if the support of the cost distribution is not bounded away from zero, there is an equilibrium with some information acquisition for arbitrarily large electorates. This equilibrium dominates in terms of welfare any equilibrium without information acquisition--even though generally there is too little information acquisition with respect to an optimal strategy profile.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 784828000000000461.

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Date of creation: 06 Oct 2005
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:784828000000000461

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  1. Gerling, Kerstin & Gruner, Hans Peter & Kiel, Alexandra & Schulte, Elisabeth, 2005. "Information acquisition and decision making in committees: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 563-597, September.
  2. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191.
  3. Herrera, Helios & Martinelli, Cesar, 2006. "Group formation and voter participation," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(4), pages 461-487, December.
  4. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191, 01.
  5. Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias K., 2009. "Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 275-291, May.
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Cited by:
  1. Volker Hahn, 2013. "Committee Design with Endogenous Participation," Working Paper Series of the Department of Economics, University of Konstanz 2013-12, Department of Economics, University of Konstanz.
  2. Hahn, Volker, 2012. "On the Optimal Size of Committees of Experts," Annual Conference 2012 (Goettingen): New Approaches and Challenges for the Labor Market of the 21st Century 62041, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  3. Oliveros, Santiago, 2013. "Abstention, ideology and information acquisition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 871-902.
  4. Triossi, Matteo, 2013. "Costly information acquisition. Is it better to toss a coin?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 169-191.
  5. Alexander Elvitar & Andrei Gomberg & César Martinelli & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2014. "Ignorance and bias in collective decision:Theory and experiments," Working Papers 1401, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  6. Matteo Triossiv, 2010. "Costly information acquisition. Better to toss a coin?," Documentos de Trabajo 267, Centro de Economía Aplicada, Universidad de Chile.
  7. Christian Bruns, 2013. "Elections and Market Provision of Information," CESifo Working Paper Series 4091, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. Cesar Martinelli, 2011. "Ignorance and Naivete in Large Elections," Working Papers 1107, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  9. Santiago Oliveros & Felix Vardy, 2013. "Demand for Slant: How Abstention Shapes Voters’ Choice of News Media," Economics Discussion Papers 734, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  10. Santiago Oliveros, 2013. "Aggregation of endogenous information in large elections," Economics Discussion Papers 733, University of Essex, Department of Economics.

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