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Published August 2, 2017 | Submitted
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Turnout and Power Sharing


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 obtained in the rational voter model are shown to continue to hold in other models of turnout such as ethical voter models and voter mobilization models. Finally, the theoretical comparative results are validated by an experiment, comparing the Levine and Palfrey (2007) results with new data on power sharing elections.

Additional Information

First draft Dec. 2011, revised Oct. 2013. The financial support of the National Science Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, CAS-SEL, and SSEL is gratefully acknowledged. We wish to thank Christopher Crabbe, Salvatore Nunnari, and Nilanjan Roy for research assistance. We thank Tilman Borgers, Alessandra Casella, Hulya Eraslan, Bernie Grofman, Faruk Gul, John Huber, Navin Kartik, Vijay Krishna, Joseph McMurray, John Morgan, Roger My- erson, Mattias Polborn and Richard Van Weelden for important discussions and suggestions. We also thank all the seminar participants at Caltech, Rochester (Wallis Conference), Zurich (ETH), Columbia, Princeton, PUC-Rio, Toronto, Boston University, SUNY Stony Brook and NYU for useful feedback. The usual disclaimer applies.

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Submitted - sswp1357_-_revised.pdf

Submitted - sswp1357.pdf


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