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The Effects of Voting Costs on the Democratic Process and Public Finances

  • Roland Hodler
  • Simon Luechinger
  • Alois Stutzer


    (University of Basel)

Abstract Increasing the attractiveness of voting is often seen as a remedy for unequal par- ticipation� and the influence of special-interest� groups on public policy.� However, lower voting costs may also bring less informed citizens to the poll inviting� efforts to sway these voters. We substantiate this argument in a probabilistic voting model with� campaign contributions.� In an empirical analysis for the 26 Swiss states, we find that lower voting costs due to postal voting are related to higher turnout, lower average education of participants, lower knowledge on the political issues they were deciding on as well as lower government welfare expenditures.

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Paper provided by Faculty of Business and Economics - University of Basel in its series Working papers with number 2012/02.

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Date of creation: 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bsl:wpaper:2012/02
Contact details of provider: Postal: Peter-Merian-Weg 6, Postfach, CH-4002 Basel
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  1. Patricia Funk, 2010. "Social Incentives and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the Swiss Mail Ballot System," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1077-1103, 09.
  2. Mark Gradstein & Branko Milanovic, 2004. "Does Libertè = Egalité? A Survey of the Empirical Links between Democracy and Inequality with Some Evidence on the Transition Economies," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(4), pages 515-537, 09.
  3. Larcinese Valentino, 2005. "Electoral Competition and Redistribution with Rationally Informed Voters," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-28, June.
  4. Alois Stutzer & Lukas Kienast, 2004. "Demokratische Beteiligung und Staatsausgaben: Die Auswirkungen des Frauenstimmrechts," CREMA Working Paper Series 2004-26, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
  5. Matthias Benz & Alois Stutzer:, . "Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland," IEW - Working Papers 119, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  6. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  7. Patricia Funk & Christina Gathmann, 2011. "Does Direct Democracy Reduce the Size of Government? New Evidence from Historical Data, 1890–2000," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 121(557), pages 1252-1280, December.
  8. Vijay Krishna & John Morgan, 2010. "Overcoming Ideological Bias in Elections," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 814577000000000498,
  9. Husted, Thomas A & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1997. "The Effect of the Expansion of the Voting Franchise on the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(1), pages 54-82, February.
  10. Meltzer, Allan H & Richard, Scott F, 1981. "A Rational Theory of the Size of Government," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 89(5), pages 914-27, October.
  11. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim & Steven Stillman & Geua Boe-Gibson, 2013. "Time to vote?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 517-536, September.
  12. W. Mark Crain & Mary L. Leonard, 1993. "The Right Versus The Obligation To Vote: Effects On Cross-Country Government Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 43-51, 03.
  13. Schaltegger, Christoph A. & Feld, Lars P., 2009. "Do large cabinets favor large governments? Evidence on the fiscal commons problem for Swiss Cantons," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1-2), pages 35-47, February.
  14. Schaltegger, Christoph A & Kuttel, Dominique, 2002. " Exit, Voice, and Mimicking Behavior: Evidence from Swiss Cantons," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 113(1-2), pages 1-23, October.
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