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If People Vote Because They Like to, Then Why Do So Many of Them Lie?

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  • Harbaugh, W T

Abstract

Of those eligible, about 40% do not vote in presidential elections. When asked, about a quarter of those nonvoters will lie to the survey takers and claim that they did. Increases in education are associated with higher voting rates and lower rates of lying overall, but with increased rates of lying conditional on not voting This paper proposes a model of voter turnout in which people who claim to vote get praise from other citizens Those who lie must bear the cost of lying The model has a stable equilibrium with positive rates of voting, honest non-voting, and lying. Reasonable parameter changes produce changes in these proportions in the same direction as the changes actually observed across education levels. I argue that a model where people vote because they want to be known as voters provides a better explanation for observed voting behavior than does a model where people vote because they want to vote. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:89:y:1996:i:1-2:p:63-76
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:62:y:1968:i:01:p:25-42_11 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:01:p:62-78_22 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Castanheira, Micael, 2003. "Victory margins and the paradox of voting," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 817-841, November.
    2. John Conley & Myrna H. Wooders & Ali Toossi, 2001. "Evolution & Voting: How Nature Makes us Public Spirited," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 28(24), pages 1.
    3. Juan Carlos Berganza, 2000. "Politicians, voters and electoral processes: an overview," Investigaciones Economicas, Fundación SEPI, vol. 24(3), pages 501-543, September.
    4. John P. Conley & Myrna Wooders, 2005. "Memetics & Voting: How Nature May Make us Public Spirited," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0514, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    5. repec:oup:restud:v:84:y:2017:i:1:p:143-181. is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Castanheira, Micael, 2002. "On the (Non) Paradox of (Not) Voting," CEPR Discussion Papers 3126, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    7. Vidal Díaz de Rada, 2011. "Face-to-face versus telephone surveys on political attitudes: a comparative analysis," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 45(4), pages 817-827, June.
    8. Fredrik Carlsson & Olof Johansson-Stenman, 2010. "Why Do You Vote and Vote as You Do?," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 63(4), pages 495-516, November.
    9. repec:kap:pubcho:v:172:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0412-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Alan Gerber & Mitchell Hoffman & John Morgan & Collin Raymond, 2017. "One in a Million: Field Experiments on Perceived Closeness of the Election and Voter Turnout," NBER Working Papers 23071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Chyi-Lu Jang & Chun-Ping Chang, 2016. "Vote Buying and Victory of Election: The Case of Taiwan," Prague Economic Papers, University of Economics, Prague, vol. 2016(5), pages 591-606.
    12. Erik Jonasson, 2011. "Informal Employment and the Role of Regional Governance," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(3), pages 429-441, August.
    13. Stefano Dellavigna & John A. List & Ulrike Malmendier & Gautam Rao, 2017. "Voting to Tell Others," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, pages 143-181.
    14. Xavier Giné & Ghazala Mansuri, 2018. "Together We Will: Experimental Evidence on Female Voting Behavior in Pakistan," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 207-235, January.
    15. Kennedy Stewart & Patricia MacIver & Stewart Young, 2008. "Testing and Improving Voters' Political Knowledge," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(4), pages 403-418, December.
    16. João Amaro de Matos & Pedro Barros, 2004. "Social Norms and the Paradox of Elections’ Turnout," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 239-255, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods

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