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A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence


  • Stephen Coate
  • Michael Conlin


This paper explores a group rule–utilitarian approach to understanding voter turnout, inspired by the theoretical work of John C. Harsanyi (1980) and Timothy J. Feddersen and Alvaro Sandroni (2002). It develops a model based on this approach and studies its performance in explaining turnout in Texas liquor referenda. The results are encouraging: the comparative static predictions of the model are broadly consistent with the data, and a structurally estimated version of the model yields reasonable coefficient estimates and fits the data well. The structurally estimated model also outperforms a simple expressive voting model.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:94:y:2004:i:5:p:1476-1504 Note: DOI: 10.1257/0002828043052231

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