IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences


  • Timothy J. Fedderson
  • Wolfgang Pesendorfer


We analyze a model of a two-candidate election in which voters have asymmetric information and diverse preferences. Voters may costlessly choose to either vote for one of the candidates or abstain. We demonstrate that a strictly positive fraction of the electorate will abstain and, nevertheless, elections effectively aggregate voter's private information. The model also provides an explanation for observed patterns of participation and partisanship.

Suggested Citation

  • Timothy J. Fedderson & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1996. "Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences," Discussion Papers 1195, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1195

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: main text
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
    2. Klevorick, Alvin K. & Rothschild, Michael & Winship, Christopher, 1984. "Information processing and jury decisionmaking," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 245-278, April.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:62:y:1968:i:01:p:25-42_11 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    5. Paul R. Milgrom, 1981. "Good News and Bad News: Representation Theorems and Applications," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 12(2), pages 380-391, Autumn.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:01:p:62-78_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Valentino Larcinese, 2009. "Information Acquisition, Ideology and Turnout: Theory and Evidence From Britain," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 21(2), pages 237-276, April.
    2. Monika Buetler & Michel André Maréchal, 2007. "Framing Effects in Political Decision Making: Evidence from a Natural Voting Experiment," CESifo Working Paper Series 1940, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2010. "The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 61-89.
    4. Valentino Larcinese, 2007. "Does political knowledge increase turnout? Evidence from the 1997 British general election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 387-411, June.
    5. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro Magalhães, 2010. "Referendum design, quorum rules and turnout," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 144(1), pages 63-81, July.
    6. León, Gianmarco, 2017. "Turnout, political preferences and information: Experimental evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 127(C), pages 56-71.
    7. Daniel Houser & Sandra Ludwig & Thomas Stratmann, 2009. "Does Deceptive Advertising Reduce Political Participation? Theory and Evidence," Working Papers 1011, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
    8. Panu Pelkonen, 2012. "Length of compulsory education and voter turnout—evidence from a staged reform," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 150(1), pages 51-75, January.
    9. repec:pit:wpaper:325 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Ryo Arawatari, 2009. "Informatization, voter turnout and income inequality," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 7(1), pages 29-54, March.
    11. Darren Grant & Michael Toma, 2008. "Elemental tests of the traditional rational voting model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 173-195, October.
    12. Christopher Blattman, 2008. "From Violence to Voting: War and political participation in Uganda," HiCN Working Papers 42, Households in Conflict Network.
    13. Mike Felgenhauer & Hans Grüner, 2007. "Distortionary lobbying," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 8(3), pages 181-195, May.
    14. Felix Oberholzer-Gee & Joel Waldfogel, 2009. "Media Markets and Localism: Does Local News en Español Boost Hispanic Voter Turnout?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(5), pages 2120-2128, December.
    15. Mike Felgenhauer & Hans Peter Grüner, 2008. "Committees and Special Interests," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 10(2), pages 219-243, April.
    16. Michael Wallerstein, 2004. "Behavioral Economics and Political Economy," Nordic Journal of Political Economy, Nordic Journal of Political Economy, vol. 30, pages 37-48.
    17. 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.
    18. Paulo Ferreira & Andreia Dionisio, 2008. "Voters' dissatisfaction, abstention and entropy: analysis in European countries," CEFAGE-UE Working Papers 2008_11, University of Evora, CEFAGE-UE (Portugal).
    19. César Martinelli, 2002. "Simple plurality versus plurality runoff with privately informed voters," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 19(4), pages 901-919.
    20. 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.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nwu:cmsems:1195. 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: (Fran Walker). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.