Discussion paper

DP11463 The Marginal Voter's Curse

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.


Llorente-Saguer, A and H Herrera (2016), ‘DP11463 The Marginal Voter's Curse‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 11463. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp11463