DP3126 | On the (Non) Paradox of (Not) Voting

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11/01/2002

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Abstract

Why do people vote? This question received a lot of attention for more than thirty years, and yet remains unanswered. In this Paper, we take stock of existing empirical regularities and argue that we can use them to improve the model of instrumental voting. Once this is done, we show that purely rational/instrumental factors actually explain a large fraction of turnout variations. To perform our analysis, we use Myerson?s (1997, 2000) advances on Poisson Games and generalize the Riker and Ordeshook (1968) seminal model of instrumental voting. Applying our results to US data, we show how our model can explain several stylized facts, like the secular fall in turnout rates in the US.