Economic Theory

, Volume 55, Issue 3, pp 753–777 | Cite as

Voting as a signaling device

  • R. Emre Aytimur
  • Aristotelis BoukourasEmail author
  • Robert Schwager
Research Article


In this paper, citizens vote in order to influence the election outcome and in order to signal their unobserved characteristics to others. The model is one of rational voting and generates the following predictions: (i) The paradox of not voting does not arise, because the benefit of voting does not vanish with population size. (ii) Turnout in elections is positively related to the importance of social interactions. (iii) Voting may exhibit bandwagon effects and small changes in the electoral incentives may generate large changes in turnout due to signaling effects. (iv) Signaling incentives increase the sensitivity of turnout to voting incentives in communities with low opportunity cost of social interaction, while the opposite is true for communities with high cost of social interaction. Therefore, the model predicts less volatile turnout for the latter type of communities.


Electoral incentives Signaling Voting Turnout Social interaction 

JEL Classification

C70 D72 D80 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Emre Aytimur
    • 1
  • Aristotelis Boukouras
    • 2
    Email author
  • Robert Schwager
    • 1
  1. 1.Georg-August University GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  2. 2.University of Edinburgh Business SchoolEdinburghUK

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