Costly voting when both information and preferences differ: is turnout too high or too low?

Ghosal, S., and Lockwood, B. (2009) Costly voting when both information and preferences differ: is turnout too high or too low? Social Choice and Welfare, 33(1), pp. 25-50. (doi:10.1007/s00355-008-0344-6)

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Abstract

We study a model of costly voting over two alternatives, where agents’ preferences are determined by both (i) a private preference in favour of one alternative e.g. candidates’ policies, and (ii) heterogeneous information in the form of noisy signals about a commonly valued state of the world e.g. candidate competence. We show that depending on the level of the personal bias (weight on private preference), voting is either according to private preferences or according to signals. When voting takes place according to private preferences, there is an unique equilibrium with inefficiently high turnout. In contrast, when voting takes place according to signals, turnout is locally too low. Multiple Pareto-ranked voting equilibria may exist and in particular, compulsory voting may Pareto dominate voluntary voting. Moreover, an increase in personal bias can cause turnout to rise or fall, and an increase in the accuracy of information may cause a switch to voting on the basis of signals and thus lower turnout, even though it increases welfare.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ghosal, Professor Sayantan
Authors: Ghosal, S., and Lockwood, B.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Journal Name:Social Choice and Welfare
ISSN:0176-1714
ISSN (Online):1432-217X
Published Online:21 November 2008

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