Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Uppsala University, Department of Economics

No 2009:14: The effect of information on voting behavior

Mattias Nordin ()
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Mattias Nordin: Department of Economics, Postal: Department of Economics, Uppsala University, P.O. Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden

Abstract: This paper investigates how information affect voting behaviour. There exist a large literature suggesting that uninformed voters can use informational shortcuts or cues to vote as if they were informed. This paper tests this hypothesis using unique Swedish individual survey data on the preferences of both politicians and voters. I find that uninformed voters are significantly worse than informed voters at voting for their most preferred politicians. This suggests that uninformed voters can not make up for their lack of information using shortcuts. Furthermore, the errors uninformed voters make do not cancel out in large elections. Estimates suggest that the ruling majorities would have switched in almost 5% of Swedish municipalities had all voters been fully informed. The effects are estimated with both parametric and nonparametric estimation techniques.

Keywords: Voting behaviour; Citizen candidates; Information; Cues

JEL-codes: D70; D80; H71

35 pages, September 18, 2009

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