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Information and Voting: the Wisdom of the Experts versus the Wisdom of the Masses

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Abstract

In a common-values election with continuously distributed information quality, the incentive to pool private information conflicts with the swing voters curse. In equilibrium, therefore, some citizens abstain despite clear private opinions, and others vote despite having arbitrarily many peers with superior information. The dichotomy between one's own and others' information quality can explain the otherwise puzzling empirical relationship between education and turnout, and suggests the importance of relative information variables in explaining turnout, which I verify for U.S. primary elections. Though voluntary elections fail to utilize nonvoters' information, mandatory elections actually do worse; e¤orts to motivate turnout may actually reduce welfare.

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Paper provided by University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy in its series Wallis Working Papers with number WP59.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:roc:wallis:wp59

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Postal: University of Rochester, Wallis Institute, Harkness 109B Rochester, New York 14627 U.S.A.

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  1. Antonio Merlo & Arianna Degan, 2007. "Do Voters Vote Sincerely?," 2007 Meeting Papers 307, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  2. John Duggan & Cesar Martinelli, 1999. "A Bayesian Model of Voting in Juries," Working Papers 9904, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  3. 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.
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  7. Tilman Börgers, 2001. "Costly Voting," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 625018000000000232, www.najecon.org.
  8. Matsusaka, John G, 1993. " Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 313-34, August.
  9. Thomas S. Dee, 2003. "Are There Civic Returns to Education?," NBER Working Papers 9588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2006. "A Structural Model of Turnout and Voting in Multiple Elections," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-011, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Feb 2007.
  11. Peyton Young, 1995. "Optimal Voting Rules," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 51-64, Winter.
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  13. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2008. "On the Benefits of Costly Voting," Economics Working Papers 0083, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  14. Aaron Edlin & Andrew Gelman & Noah Kaplan, 2007. "Voting as a Rational Choice: Why and How People Vote to Improve the Well-Being of Others," NBER Working Papers 13562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Morton, Rebecca B. & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2011. "Let the experts decide? Asymmetric information, abstention, and coordination in standing committees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 485-509, June.

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