Are voters rational?
Lyytikäinen, Teemu; Tukiainen, Janne (2019)
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We test whether a voter's decision to cast a vote depends on its probability of affecting the election outcome. Using exogenous variation arising at population cutoffs determining council sizes in Finnish municipal elections, we show that larger council size increases both pivotal probabilities and turnout. These effects are statistically significant, fairly large and robust. Finally, we use a novel instrumental variables design to show that the jumps in the pivotal probabilities are the likely candidate for explaining the increase in turnout, rather than the other observed simultaneous jumps at the council size cutoffs. Moreover, our results indicate that turnout responds only to within-party pivotal probabilities, perhaps because they are more salient to the voters than the between-party ones.
Local government elections, Instrumental variables, Rational voting, Regression discontinuity design