Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 1 > Issue 3

Ethical Voters and Costly Information Acquisition

Timothy Feddersen, MEDS Department, Kellogg School of Management, tfed@kellogg.northwestern.edu , Alvaro Sandroni, MEDS Department, Kellogg School of Management, sandroni@kellogg.northwestern.edu
Suggested Citation
Timothy Feddersen and Alvaro Sandroni (2006), "Ethical Voters and Costly Information Acquisition", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 1: No. 3, pp 287-311. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00000011

Publication Date: 03 Jul 2006
© 2006 T. Feddersen and A. Sandroni
Voting theory,  Voting behavior,  Formal modelling,  Game theory


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In this article:
Informal Description of Model and Results 
Baseline Model: Exogenous Level of Information 
Costly Information Acquisition 


Game-theoretic and statistical models have emphasized the desirable information aggregation properties of large elections. However, such models do not explain why voters choose to acquire costly information. In this paper we use an ethical voter model to endogenize the decision to acquire information. We show that a significant fraction of the electorate will acquire costly information. However, even with negligible costs of acquiring information a fraction of the electorate will remain uninformed. Moreover, we show that as the quality of information increases information aggregation properties of election improve, but the fraction of informed voters may decrease. This result stands in contrast to previous models where the information aggregation properties of elections are insensitive to changes in the fraction informed. In addition, changes in the quality or cost of information affect the relative likelihood that each candidate wins the election.