Turnout and Power Sharing

Herrera, Helios; Morelli, Massimo; Palfrey, Thomas R.

Differences in electoral rules and/or legislative, executive or legal institutions across countries induce different mappings from election outcomes to distributions of power. We explore how these different mappings affect voters' participation in a democracy. Assuming heterogeneity in the cost of voting, the effect of such institutional differences on turnout depends on the distribution of voters' preferences for the parties: when the two parties have similar support, turnout is higher in a winner-take-all system than in a power sharing system; the result is reversed when one side has a larger base. The results are robust to a wide range of modeling approaches, including the instrumental voting model, ethical voter models, and voter mobilization models. Findings from laboratory experiments provide empirical support for most of the theoretical predictions.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Department of Economics, Columbia University
Department of Economics Discussion Papers, 1213-04
Published Here
November 7, 2012