, Volume 119, Issue 1-2, pp 31-59

Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? – Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland

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Abstract

Public choice theory takes citizens as rationally ignorantabout political issues, because the costs of being informedgreatly exceed the utility individuals derive from it. Thecosts of information (supply side) as well as the utility ofinformation (demand side), however, can vary substantiallydepending on the political system under which citizens live.Using survey data from the European Union and Switzerland, wepresent empirical evidence that citizens are politicallybetter informed when they have more extended politicalparticipation rights. The results corroborate theoreticalarguments and circumstantial evidence that voter informationshould be treated as endogenously determined by politicalinstitutions.