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A psychologically-based model of voter turnout

We analyze a psychologically-based model of voter turnout. Potential voters experience regret if they fail to vote, which is the motivation for participation in voting. Regret from abstention is inversely related to the margin of victory. Voters on the winner's side experience less regret than those on the loser's side. We show that the unique equilibrium involves positive voter turnout. We show that the losing side has higher turnout. In addition, voter turnout is positively related to importance of the election and the competitiveness of the election. We also consider scenarios in which voters are uncertain about the composition of the electorate's political preferences and show similar phenomena emerge.

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Paper provided by Concordia University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 08008.

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Length: 35 pages
Date of creation: Aug 2006
Date of revision: Dec 2008
Handle: RePEc:crd:wpaper:08008
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  1. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  2. 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.
  3. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin & Andrea Moro, 2004. "The Performance of the Pivotal-Voter Model in Small-Scale Elections: Evidence from Texas Liquor Referenda," NBER Working Papers 10797, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Roger B. Myerson, 1994. "Population Uncertainty and Poisson Games," Discussion Papers 1102R, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. 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.
  6. Loomes, Graham & Sugden, Robert, 1982. "Regret Theory: An Alternative Theory of Rational Choice under Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 92(368), pages 805-24, December.
  7. 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).
  8. Conley, John P. & Toossi, Ali & Wooders, Myrna, 2001. "Evolution & voting : how nature makes us public spirited," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 601, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
  9. Humberto Llavador, 2005. "Voting with preferences over margins of victory," Economics Working Papers 900, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised Nov 2006.
  10. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "A Theory of Participation in Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1271-1282, September.
  11. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2006. "A Structural Model of Turnout and Voting in Multiple Elections," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-011, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Feb 2007.
  12. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "The calculus of ethical voting," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 1-25, December.
  13. Sieg, Gernot & Schulz, Christof, 1995. " Evolutionary Dynamics in the Voting Game," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 85(1-2), pages 157-72, October.
  14. Arianna Degan, 2006. "Policy Positions, Information Acquisition and Turnout," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 669-682, December.
  15. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  16. Antonio Merlo, 2005. "Whither Political Economy? Theories, Facts and Issues," PIER Working Paper Archive 05-033, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Dec 2005.
  17. Barry Nalebuff & Roni Shachar, 1997. "Follow The Leader: Theory And Evidence On Political Participation," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm57, Yale School of Management.
  18. David K. Levine & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2006. "The Paradox of Voter Participation? A Laboratory Study," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000188, UCLA Department of Economics.
  19. Taylor, Curtis & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Public Information and Electoral Bias," Working Papers 05-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  20. 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.
  21. Pieters, Rik & Zeelenberg, Marcel, 2005. "On bad decisions and deciding badly: When intention-behavior inconsistency is regrettable," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 18-30, May.
  22. Steven Callander, 2007. "Bandwagons and Momentum in Sequential Voting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 653-684.
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