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Social Norms and the Paradox of Elections’ Turnout

  • João Amaro de Matos


  • Pedro Barros


People vote although their marginal gain from voting is zero.We contribute to the resolution of this paradox by presentinga model for equilibrium configuration of attitudes regardingthe decision to vote. Each individual is seen as an element ofa social network, within which pairs of individuals expressideas and attitudes, exerting mutual influence. We model therole of such networks in propagating the mutual influenceacross pairs of individuals. We show that it may suffice thata small set of individuals have a strong feeling about showingup to vote to generate a significant turnout in elections. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 121 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 239-255

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:121:y:2004:i:1:p:239-255
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  1. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
  2. Roger B. Myerson, 1998. "Population uncertainty and Poisson games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 375-392.
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  6. Kubler, Dorothea, 2001. "On the Regulation of Social Norms," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 17(2), pages 449-76, October.
  7. Matsusaka, John G, 1993. " Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 313-34, August.
  8. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," Working Paper Series 476, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  9. Charles F. Manski, 2000. "Economic Analysis of Social Interactions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 115-136, Summer.
  10. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2002. "Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence from Texas Liquor Referenda," NBER Working Papers 8720, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Blume,L. & Durlauf,S., 2002. "Equilibrium concepts for social interaction models," Working papers 7, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  12. Ashenfelter, Orley C & Kelley, Stanley, Jr, 1975. "Determinants of Participation in Presidential Elections," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 695-733, December.
  13. Young, H Peyton, 1993. "The Evolution of Conventions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(1), pages 57-84, January.
  14. Fain, James & Dworkin, James B, 1993. " Determinants of Voter Participation: Some Simulation Results," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 823-34, December.
  15. Harbaugh, W T, 1996. " If People Vote Because They Like to, Then Why Do So Many of Them Lie?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 63-76, October.
  16. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  17. Sieg, Gernot & Schulz, Christof, 1995. " Evolutionary Dynamics in the Voting Game," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 85(1-2), pages 157-72, October.
  18. Ianni, Antonella & Corradi, Valentina, 2000. "Consensus, contagion and clustering in a space-time model of public opinion formation," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 0009, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
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