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A STRUCTURAL MODEL OF TURNOUT AND VOTING IN MULTIPLE ELECTIONS

Authors


  • The editor in charge of this paper was Orazio Attanasio.

  • Acknowledgments: We thank the Editor, two anonymous referees, Mike Conlin, Ken Wolpin, and seminar and conference participants at several institutions for their useful comments and suggestions. An earlier draft was completed while Merlo was visiting CES at the University of Munich and Degan was visiting the University of Toulouse. We are grateful for their hospitality. Merlo acknowledges financial support from National Science Foundation grant SES-0617892. Degan acknowledges financial support from the Fonds Québéçois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture. Degan is a member of CIRPÉE. Merlo is a member of the CEPR, CESifo and NBER.

  • Email addresses: degan.arianna@uqam.ca (Degan); merloa@econ.upenn.edu (Merlo)

Abstract

This paper develops a unified approach to study participation and voting in multiple elections. The theoretical setting combines an uncertain-voter model of turnout with a spatial model of voting behavior. We apply our framework to the study of turnout and voting in US Presidential and Congressional elections. We structurally estimate the model using individual-level data for the 2000 elections, and quantify the relationships between observed individual characteristics and unobserved citizens’ ideological preferences, information, and civic duty. We then use the estimated model, which replicates the patterns of abstention, selective abstention, split-ticket voting, and straight-ticket voting observed in the data, to assess the effects of policies that may increase citizens’ information and sense of civic duty on their turnout and voting behavior.

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