, Volume 35, Issue 3, pp 315-335
Date: 28 Oct 2006

Rational ignorance and voting behavior

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Abstract

We model a two-alternative election in which voters may acquire information about which is the best alternative for all voters. Voters differ in their cost of acquiring information. We show that as the number of voters increases, the fraction of voters who acquire information declines to zero. However, if the support of the cost distribution is not bounded away from zero, there is an equilibrium with some information acquisition for arbitrarily large electorates. This equilibrium dominates in terms of welfare any equilibrium without information acquisition – even though generally there is too little information acquisition with respect to an optimal strategy profile.