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Information and Voting: the Wisdom of the Experts versus the Wisdom of the Masses

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Abstract

In a common-values election with continuously distributed information quality, the incentive to pool private information conflicts with the swing voters curse. In equilibrium, therefore, some citizens abstain despite clear private opinions, and others vote despite having arbitrarily many peers with superior information. The dichotomy between one's own and others' information quality can explain the otherwise puzzling empirical relationship between education and turnout, and suggests the importance of relative information variables in explaining turnout, which I verify for U.S. primary elections. Though voluntary elections fail to utilize nonvoters' information, mandatory elections actually do worse; e¤orts to motivate turnout may actually reduce welfare.

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  • Joseph McMurray, 2008. "Information and Voting: the Wisdom of the Experts versus the Wisdom of the Masses," Wallis Working Papers WP59, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:roc:wallis:wp59
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    1. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.

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