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Voting as a Signaling Device

  • R. Emre Aytimur
  • Aristotelis Boukouras
  • Robert Schwager

In this paper, citizens vote in order to influence the election outcome and in order to signal their unobserved characteristics to others. The model is one of rational voting and generates the following predictions: (i) The paradox of not voting does not arise, because the benefit of voting does not vanish with population size. (ii) Turnout in elections is positively related to the size of the local community and the importance of social interactions. (iii) Voting may exhibit bandwagon effects and small changes in the electoral incentives may generate large changes in turnout due to signaling effects. (iv) Signaling incentives increase the sensitivity of turnout to voting incentives in communities with low opportunity cost of social interaction, while the opposite is true for communities with high cost of social interaction. Therefore, the model predicts that smaller communities have more volatile turnout than larger communities.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3700.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3700
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  1. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2005. "Attitude-Dependent Altruism, Turnout and Voting," CEPR Discussion Papers 5146, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Helios Herrera & Cesar Martinelli, 2005. "Group Formation and Voter Participation," Working Papers 0502, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  3. Geoffrey Brennan & Alan Hamlin, 1998. "Expressive voting and electoral equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1), pages 149-175, April.
  4. Tilman Borgers, 2004. "Costly Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 57-66, March.
  5. DHILLON, Amrita & PERALTA, Susana, . "Economic theories of voter turnout," CORE Discussion Papers RP -1563, Université catholique de Louvain, Center for Operations Research and Econometrics (CORE).
  6. Micael Castanheira De Moura, 2003. "Victory margins and the paradox of voting," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/10009, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  7. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
  8. Schram, Arthur & Sonnemans, Joep, 1996. "Why people vote: Experimental evidence," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 17(4), pages 417-442, August.
  9. Posner, Eric A, 1998. "Symbols, Signals, and Social Norms in Politics and the Law," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 765-98, June.
  10. Jens Großer & Arthur Schram, 2004. "Neighborhood Information Exchange and Voter Participation: An Experimental Study," Working Paper Series in Economics 8, University of Cologne, Department of Economics, revised 29 Sep 2004.
  11. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
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