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Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?


  • Cesar Martinelli

    () (Centro de Investigacion Economica (CIE), Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM))


We analyze an election in which voters are uncertain about which of two alternatives is better for them. Voters can, however, acquire some costly information about the alternatives. As the number of voters increases, individual investment in political information declines to zero. However, the election outcome is likely to correspond to the interest of the majority if the marginal cost of information acquisition approaches zero as the information acquired becomes nearly irrelevant. Under certain conditions, the election outcome corresponds to the interests of the majority with probability approaching one. Thus, "rationally ignorant" voters are consistent with a well-informed electorate. JEL D72, D82. Keywords: voting, information acquisition, information aggregation.

Suggested Citation

  • Cesar Martinelli, 2002. "Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?," Working Papers 0210, Centro de Investigacion Economica, ITAM.
  • Handle: RePEc:cie:wpaper:0210

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
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    6. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2003. "Putting Your Ballot Where you Mouth Is: An Analysis of Collective Choice," Levine's Working Paper Archive 506439000000000280, David K. Levine.
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    More about this item


    voting; information acquisition; information aggregation;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D82 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Asymmetric and Private Information; Mechanism Design


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