Public Choice

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 91–117

Explaining voter turnout patterns: An information theory

  • John G. Matsusaka

DOI: 10.1007/BF01047803

Cite this article as:
Matsusaka, J.G. Public Choice (1995) 84: 91. doi:10.1007/BF01047803


Voting research is rich in empirical regularities yet a parsimonious theory of voter turnout that can match the facts has proven to be elusive. This paper argues that voter turnout patterns can be explained by extending the traditional rational voter model to include limited information. A model is presented in which utility-maximizing consumers receive higher payoffs from voting the more confident they are of their vote choice. The model provides an explanation for the most important cross-sectional voter turnout patterns. In addition, it suggests a novel explanation for the post-1960 decline in U.S. participation.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • John G. Matsusaka
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Finance and Business Economics, School of Business AdministrationUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles

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