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Voter Turnout in Direct Democracy: Theory and Evidence

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Author Info

  • Søberg, Morten

    ()
    (The Norwegian Parliament)

  • Tangerås, Thomas P.

    ()
    (The Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

Abstract

We analyse voter turnout as a function of referendum types. An advisory referendum produces advice that a legislature may or may not take into account when choosing between two alternatives, whereas a binding referendum generates a decisive decision. In theory, voter turnout should be higher under binding than advisory referendums, higher in small than large electorates and higher in close than less close referendums. These predictions are corroborated by evidence from 230 local referendums in Norway. For example, a shift from an advisory to a semi-binding referendum leads to an average increase in voter turnout by 11.5 percentage points.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 596.

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Length: 23 pages
Date of creation: 18 Jun 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0596

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Postal: Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden
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Keywords: Voting Behaviour; Referendum Types; Rational Choice;

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  1. Ledyard, John O. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "The approximation of efficient public good mechanisms by simple voting schemes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 153-171, February.
  2. John O. Ledyard & Thomas R. Palfrey, 1994. "Voting and Lottery Drafts as Efficient Public Goods Mechanisms," Game Theory and Information 9405003, EconWPA, revised 22 May 1994.
  3. Guillermo Owen & Bernard Grofman, 1984. "To vote or not to vote: The paradox of nonvoting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 311-325, January.
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