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Voter Turnout in Direct Democracy: Theory and Evidence

Author

Listed:
  • Søberg, Morten

    () (The Norwegian Parliament)

  • Tangerås, Thomas P.

    () (The Research Institute of Industrial Economics)

Abstract

We analyse voter turnout as a function of referendum types. An advisory referendum produces advice that a legislature may or may not take into account when choosing between two alternatives, whereas a binding referendum generates a decisive decision. In theory, voter turnout should be higher under binding than advisory referendums, higher in small than large electorates and higher in close than less close referendums. These predictions are corroborated by evidence from 230 local referendums in Norway. For example, a shift from an advisory to a semi-binding referendum leads to an average increase in voter turnout by 11.5 percentage points.

Suggested Citation

  • Søberg, Morten & Tangerås, Thomas P., 2003. "Voter Turnout in Direct Democracy: Theory and Evidence," Working Paper Series 596, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:0596
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Guillermo Owen & Bernard Grofman, 1984. "To vote or not to vote: The paradox of nonvoting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 42(3), pages 311-325, January.
    2. John O. Ledyard & Thomas R. Palfrey, 1994. "Voting and Lottery Drafts as Efficient Public Goods Mechanisms," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(2), pages 327-355.
    3. Ledyard, John O. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "The approximation of efficient public good mechanisms by simple voting schemes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 153-171, February.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting Behaviour; Referendum Types; Rational Choice;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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