Are Voters Rational?
We test whether voters are rational in the sense that their decision to cast a vote depends on its expected impact on the election outcomes. We provide causal evidence on this rational voting hypothesis by using exogenous variation in pivotal probabilities that arise at population thresholds determining council sizes in Finnish municipal elections. First, we document statistically significant, economically relevant and robust effects of crossing the threshold on turnout. Second, we use simulations to measure the pivotal probabilities. Finally, we use a novel instrumental variables design to show that the changes in the pivotal probabilities rather than simultaneous changes in the number of available candidates or their quality explain the changes in turnout. Moreover, we document that turnout responds only to such pivotal probabilities that are salient to the voters, and that the effect of district magnitude on the election closeness in general or the proportionality of elections is not behind the response in turnout. Thus, the rational voter exists. This version (January 19, 2016) replaces the September 27, 2013 version.
|Date of creation:||27 Sep 2013|
|Date of revision:|
|Contact details of provider:|| Postal: Arkadiankatu 7, P.O. Box 1279, FI-00101 Helsinki|
Phone: +358 295 519 400
Fax: +358 295 519 599
Web page: http://www.vatt.fi/
More information through EDIRC
|Order Information:|| Email: |
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996.
"The Swing Voter's Curse,"
American Economic Review,
American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
- Casey B. Mulligan & Charles G. Hunter, 2000.
"The Empirical Frequency of a Pivotal Vote,"
0025, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
- 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.
- 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.
- Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2004. "A Structural Model of Turnout and Voting in Multiple Elections," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-021, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Aug 2006.
- 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.
- David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2010.
"Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics,"
Journal of Economic Literature,
American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 281-355, June.
- McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
- Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
- Patricia Funk, 2010. "Social Incentives and Voter Turnout: Evidence from the Swiss Mail Ballot System," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(5), pages 1077-1103, 09.
- Stephen Ansolabehere & John M. de Figueiredo & James M. Snyder Jr, 2003. "Why is There so Little Money in U.S. Politics?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(1), pages 105-130, Winter.
- Alan Gerber & Donald Green & Matthew Green, 2003. "Partisan mail and voter turnout: Results from randomized field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00250, The Field Experiments Website.
- Coate, Stephen & Conlin, Michael & Moro, Andrea, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 582-596, April.
- Fiva, Jon H. & Folke, Olle, 2016.
"Mechanical and Psychological Effects of Electoral Reform,"
British Journal of Political Science,
Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(02), pages 265-279, April.
- Jon H. Fiva & Olle Folke, 2011. "Mechanical and Psychological Effects of Electoral Reform," CESifo Working Paper Series 3505, CESifo Group Munich.
- Aaron Edlin & Andrew Gelman & Noah Kaplan, 2007. "Voting as a Rational Choice: Why and How People Vote to Improve the Well-Being of Others," NBER Working Papers 13562, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Pettersson-Lidbom, Per, 2012.
"Does the size of the legislature affect the size of government? Evidence from two natural experiments,"
Journal of Public Economics,
Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 269-278.
- Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2004. "Does the Size of the Legislature Affect the Size of Government? Evidence from Two Natural Experiments," Discussion Papers 350, Government Institute for Economic Research Finland (VATT).
- Jørgen Juel Andersen & Jon H. Fiva & Gisle James Natvik, 2013.
"Voting When the Stakes Are High,"
0017, Centre for Applied Macro- and Petroleum economics (CAMP), BI Norwegian Business School.
- Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. "Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
- Levitt, Steven D, 1994. "Using Repeat Challengers to Estimate the Effect of Campaign Spending on Election Outcomes in the U.S. House," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 102(4), pages 777-98, August.
- Fujiwara, Thomas, 2011. "A Regression Discontinuity Test of Strategic Voting and Duverger's Law," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 6(3–4), pages 197-233, November.
- John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309.
- S. Nageeb Ali & Charles Lin, 2013. "Why People Vote: Ethical Motives and Social Incentives," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 73-98, May.
When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:50. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Anita Niskanen)
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.