Discussion Paper Details

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Title: The Marginal Voter's Curse

Author(s): Helios Herrera, Aniol Llorente-Saguer and Joseph C. McMurray

Publication Date: August 2016

Keyword(s): Experiment, information aggregation, Turnout and Underdog effect

Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: This paper proposes a rational model of voter participation by generalizing a common-value model of costless voting to include not just pivotal voting but also marginal voting incentives. A new strategic incentive for abstention arises in that case, to avoid the marginal voter's curse of pushing the policy outcome in the wrong direction. The marginal voter's curse presents a larger disincentive for voting than the swing voter's curse. Moreover, marginal motivations are shown to dominate pivotal motivations in large elections. Model predictions are confirmed in a laboratory experiment and applied in a comparative analysis of electoral rules.

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Bibliographic Reference

Herrera, H, Llorente-Saguer, A and McMurray, J. 2016. 'The Marginal Voter's Curse'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.