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Strength in Numbers: Group Size and Political Mobilization

  • Oberholzer-Gee, Felix
  • Waldfogel, Joel

An important result in interest group theory and political economy is that small groups are more influential than their size would lead us to expect. In this study, we document that the opposite holds for political mobilization. Citizens are more likely to participate in elections if they belong to large groups. We present evidence that both the absolute size of groups and their population share influence individual participation decisions. The link between group size and political mobilization is in part due to the structure of media markets. Candidates find it easier to direct campaign messages at larger groups because many existing media outlets cater to them.

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File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/428717
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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law and Economics.

Volume (Year): 48 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 73-91

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:y:2005:v:48:i:1:p:73-91
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

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  1. George J. Stigler, 1971. "The Theory of Economic Regulation," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 2(1), pages 3-21, Spring.
  2. Alan Gerber & Donald Green, 2000. "The effect of a nonpartisan get-out-the-vote drive: An experimental study of leafleting," Natural Field Experiments 00247, The Field Experiments Website.
  3. Waldfogel, Joel, 2003. " Preference Externalities: An Empirical Study of Who Benefits Whom in Differentiated-Product Markets," RAND Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 34(3), pages 557-68, Autumn.
  4. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  5. Barry Nalebuff & Ron Shachar, 1999. "Follow the Leader: Theory and Evidence on Political Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(3), pages 525-547, June.
  6. Gary S. Becker, 1983. "A Theory of Competition Among Pressure Groups for Political Influence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 98(3), pages 371-400.
  7. Palfrey, Thomas R. & Rosenthal, Howard, 1984. "Participation and the provision of discrete public goods: a strategic analysis," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(2), pages 171-193, July.
  8. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. "Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  9. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
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