Public Choice

, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 855–878

The Downsian voter meets the ecological fallacy

  • John G. Matsusaka
  • Filip Palda

DOI: 10.1007/BF01047999

Cite this article as:
Matsusaka, J.G. & Palda, F. Public Choice (1993) 77: 855. doi:10.1007/BF01047999


This paper presents evidence that voter participation does not depend on the probability that one vote is decisive. An extensive summary of the empirical participation literature is provided which shows that most but not all studies have found that turnout in an electoral district is higher when the race is closer. Individual-level vote regressions for the 1979 and 1980 Canadian national elections are estimated using objective measures of closeness (as opposed to self-reported measures). The main finding is that a citizen is no more likely to vote in a close election than in a lands-lide election. District-level turnout regressions for the same elections are also estimated, and a significant relation between closeness and turnout is observed. This suggests that aggregation bias may generate a spurious closeness-turnout relation in district-level regressions.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • John G. Matsusaka
    • 1
  • Filip Palda
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Finance and Business Economics, School of Business AdministrationUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos Angeles
  2. 2.The Fraser InstituteVancouverCanada