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Learning in Elections and Voter Turnout

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  • STEFANO DEMICHELIS
  • AMRITA DHILLON

Abstract

Voter turnout in game theoretic models of voting has typically been difficult to predict because of the problem of multiple Nash equilibria (Palfrey and Rosenthal 1983, 1985). Many of these equilibria require an extreme precision of beliefs among voters that is unlikely to be reached in real elections. At the same time, mechanisms like pre‐election polls exist to shape the beliefs of voters about expected turnout. We combine these two features in a model of voter learning in elections and characterize the asymptotically stable equilibria of both complete and incomplete information games in a simple symmetric setting with two candidates. We also show how the model can be used to qualitatively explain several phenomena observed in reality: increases in costs of voting affect turnout adversely but there may be persistence of turnout levels between elections even though costs and other parameters change. Increase in uncertainty increases turnout while increases in the size of the electorate decrease it, in line with intuition.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefano Demichelis & Amrita Dhillon, 2010. "Learning in Elections and Voter Turnout," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(5), pages 871-896, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jpbect:v:12:y:2010:i:5:p:871-896
    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9779.2010.01478.x
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    Cited by:

    1. Christos Mavridis & Marco Serena, 2018. "Complete information pivotal-voter model with asymmetric group size," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 177(1), pages 53-66, October.
    2. Sebastian Garmann, 2020. "Political efficacy and the persistence of turnout shocks," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 411-429, November.
    3. Nöldeke, Georg & Peña, Jorge, 2016. "The symmetric equilibria of symmetric voter participation games with complete information," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 99(C), pages 71-81.
    4. Martorana, Marco Ferdinando, 2011. "Voting Behaviour in a dynamic perspective: a survey," MPRA Paper 37592, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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