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If people vote because they like to, then why do so many of them lie?

  • William T. Harbaugh

    (Univ. of Oregon)

Of those eligible, about 40% do not vote in presidential elections. When asked, about a quarter of those nonvoters will lie to the survey takers and claim that they did. Increases in education are associated with higher voting rates and lower rates of lying overall, but with increased rates of lying conditional on not voting. This paper proposes a model of voter turnout in which people who claim to vote get praise from other citizens. Those who lie must bear a cost of lying. The model has a stable equilibrium with positive rates of voting, honest non-voting, and lying. Reasonable parameter changes produce changes in these proportions in the same direction as the changes actually observed across education levels.

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Paper provided by EconWPA in its series Public Economics with number 9606002.

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Length: 17 pages
Date of creation: 27 Jun 1996
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwppe:9606002
Note: Type of Document - Wordperfect; prepared on IBM PC ; pages: 17; figures: request from author
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://econwpa.repec.org

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  1. Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
  2. Ashenfelter, Orley C & Kelley, Stanley, Jr, 1975. "Determinants of Participation in Presidential Elections," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 695-733, December.
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