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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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File URL: http://alcor.concordia.ca/~mingli/research/regretm.pdf
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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. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2011. "A Structural Model Of Turnout And Voting In Multiple Elections," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 209-245, 04.
  4. Sieg, Gernot & Schulz, Christof, 1995. " Evolutionary Dynamics in the Voting Game," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 85(1-2), pages 157-72, October.
  5. Arianna Degan, 2006. "Policy Positions, Information Acquisition and Turnout," Scandinavian Journal of Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 108(4), pages 669-682, December.
  6. 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.
  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. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  9. Steven Callander, 2007. "Bandwagons and Momentum in Sequential Voting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 653-684.
  10. 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.
  11. Roger B. Myerson, 1998. "Population uncertainty and Poisson games," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 27(3), pages 375-392.
  12. Taylor, Curtis & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Public Information and Electoral Bias," Working Papers 05-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  13. Amrita Dhillon & Susana Peralta, 2002. "Economic Theories Of Voter Turnout," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(480), pages F332-F352, June.
  14. 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.
  15. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
  16. 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.
  17. David K. Levine & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2006. "The Paradox of Voter Participation? A Laboratory Study," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000188, UCLA Department of Economics.
  18. 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.
  19. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "A Theory of Participation in Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1271-1282, September.
  20. 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.
  21. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "The calculus of ethical voting," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer, vol. 35(1), pages 1-25, December.
  22. 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.
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