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Ethical Voters and Costly Information Acquisition

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  • Feddersen, Timothy
  • Sandroni, Alvaro

Abstract

Game-theoretic and statistical models have emphasized the desirable information aggregation properties of large elections. However, such models do not explain why voters choose to acquire costly information. In this paper we use an ethical voter model to endogenize the decision to acquire information. We show that a significant fraction of the electorate will acquire costly information. However, even with negligible costs of acquiring information a fraction of the electorate will remain uninformed. Moreover, we show that as the quality of information increases information aggregation properties of election improve, but the fraction of informed voters may decrease. This result stands in contrast to previous models where the information aggregation properties of elections are insensitive to changes in the fraction informed. In addition, changes in the quality or cost of information affect the relative likelihood that each candidate wins the election.

Suggested Citation

  • Feddersen, Timothy & Sandroni, Alvaro, 2006. "Ethical Voters and Costly Information Acquisition," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(3), pages 287-311, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:now:jlqjps:100.00000011
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00000011
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    Cited by:

    1. Jo Thori Lind & Dominic Rohner, 2017. "Knowledge is Power: A Theory of Information, Income and Welfare Spending," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 84(336), pages 611-646, October.
    2. Piolatto, Amedeo & Schuett, Florian, 2015. "Media competition and electoral politics," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 80-93.
    3. Ming Li & Dipjyoti Majumdar, 2010. "A Psychologically Based Model of Voter Turnout," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(5), pages 979-1002, October.
    4. Bruns, Christian & Himmler, Oliver, 2016. "Mass media, instrumental information, and electoral accountability," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 134(C), pages 75-84.
    5. Julia Cage, 2014. "Media Competition, Information Provision and Political Participation," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/16juu6v6rg8, Sciences Po.
    6. Bruns, Christian, 2013. "Elections and Market Provision of Information," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79857, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Prato, Carlo & Wolton, Stephane, 2014. "The Voters' Curses: The Upsides and Downsides of Political Engagement," MPRA Paper 53482, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Morton, Rebecca B. & Ou, Kai, 2015. "What motivates bandwagon voting behavior: Altruism or a desire to win?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 224-241.
    9. Triossi, Matteo, 2013. "Costly information acquisition. Is it better to toss a coin?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 82(C), pages 169-191.
    10. Oliveros, Santiago, 2013. "Abstention, ideology and information acquisition," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 148(3), pages 871-902.
    11. Hamlin, Alan & Jennings, Colin, 2011. "Expressive Political Behaviour: Foundations, Scope and Implications," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(03), pages 645-670, July.
    12. Großer, Jens & Seebauer, Michael, 2016. "The curse of uninformed voting: An experimental study," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 205-226.

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