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Electoral Competition with Rationally Inattentive Voters

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  • Filip Matejka
  • Guido Tabellini

Abstract

This paper studies how voters optimally allocate costly attention in a model of probabilistic voting. The equilibrium solves a modified social planning problem that reflects voters’ choice of attention. Voters are more attentive when their stakes are higher, when their cost of information is lower and prior uncertainty is higher. We explore the implications of this in a variety of applications. In equilibrium, extremist voters are more influential and public goods are under-provided. The analysis also yields predictions about the equilibrium pattern of information, and about policy divergence by two opportunistic candidates. Endogenous attention can lead to multiple equilibria, explaining how poor voters in developing countries can be politically empowered by welfare programs .

Suggested Citation

  • Filip Matejka & Guido Tabellini, 2015. "Electoral Competition with Rationally Inattentive Voters," Working Papers 559, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:559
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Benjamin Ogden, 2017. "The Imperfect Beliefs Voting Model," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2017-20, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    2. Bracco, Emanuele & Revelli, Federico, 2018. "Concurrent elections and political accountability: Evidence from Italian local elections," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 148(C), pages 135-149.
    3. Prato, Carlo & Wolton, Stephane, 2017. "Wisdom of the Crowd? Information Aggregation and Electoral Incentives," MPRA Paper 82753, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    4. Lockwood, Ben, 2017. "Confirmation Bias and Electoral Accountability," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 11(4), pages 471-501, February.
    5. Petrova, Maria & Sen, Ananya & Yildirim, Pinar, 2017. "Social Media and Political Donations: New Technology and Incumbency Advantage in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 11808, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    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

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