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The Swing Voter's Curse in Social Networks

Author

Listed:
  • Berno Buechel

    (University of St. Gallen and Liechtenstein-Institute)

  • Lydia Mechtenberg

    (University of Hamburg)

Abstract

We study private communication in social networks prior to a majority vote on two alternative policies. Some (or all) agents receive a private imperfect signal about which policy is correct. They can, but need not, recommend a policy to their neighbors in the social network prior to the vote. We show theoretically and empirically that communication can undermine efficiency of the vote and hence reduce welfare in a common interest setting. Both efficiency and existence of fully informative equilibria in which vote recommendations are always truthfully given and followed hinge on the structure of the communication network. If some voters have distinctly larger audiences than others, their neighbors should not follow their vote recommendation; however, they may do so in equilibrium. We test the model in a lab experiment and strong support for the comparative-statics and, more generally, for the importance of the network structure for voting behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Berno Buechel & Lydia Mechtenberg, 2017. "The Swing Voter's Curse in Social Networks," Working Papers 2017.05, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2017.05
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:90:y:1996:i:01:p:34-45_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Morton, Rebecca B. & Tyran, Jean-Robert, 2011. "Let the experts decide? Asymmetric information, abstention, and coordination in standing committees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(2), pages 485-509, June.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:02:p:413-418_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:100:y:2006:i:02:p:209-217_06 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Jacob K. Goeree & Leeat Yariv, 2011. "An Experimental Study of Collective Deliberation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 79(3), pages 893-921, May.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:94:y:2000:i:02:p:375-393_22 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Jordi Brandts & Leonie Gerhards & Lydia Mechtenberg, 2018. "Deliberative Structures and their Impact on Voting Behavior under Social Conflict," Working Papers 1022, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    2. Eckhoff Andresen, Martin & Huber, Martin, 2018. "Instrument-based estimation with binarized treatments: Issues and tests for the exclusion restriction," FSES Working Papers 492, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences, University of Freiburg/Fribourg Switzerland.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Strategic Voting; Social Networks; Swing Voter's Curse; Information Aggregation;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • D85 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Network Formation
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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