Turnout Across Democracies

35 Pages Posted: 15 Sep 2014 Last revised: 19 Nov 2022

See all articles by Helios Herrera

Helios Herrera

HEC Montreal

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University

Salvatore Nunnari

Bocconi University; Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Date Written: September 2014

Abstract

World democracies widely differ in electoral rules, as well as in legislative, executive or legal institutions. Different institutional environments induce different mappings from electoral outcomes to the distribution of power. We explore how these mappings affect voters' participation to an election. We show that the effect of such institutional differences on turnout depends on the distribution of voters' preferences for the competing parties. In particular, we uncover a novel contest effect: given the distribution of preferences, turnout increases and then decreases when we move from a more proportional to a less proportional system; turnout is maximized for an intermediate degree of proportionality. Moreover, we generalize the competition effect, common to models of endogenous turnout: given the institutional environment, turnout increases in the ex-ante closeness of the election and peaks when the population is evenly split between the two parties. These results are robust to a wide range of modeling approaches, including ethical voter models, voter mobilization models, and rational voter models.

Suggested Citation

Herrera, Helios and Morelli, Massimo and Nunnari, Salvatore, Turnout Across Democracies (September 2014). NBER Working Paper No. w20451, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2496227

Helios Herrera (Contact Author)

HEC Montreal ( email )

3000, ch. de la Côte-Ste-Catherine
Montréal, Quebec H3T 2A7
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.hec.ca/en/profs/helios.herrera.html

Massimo Morelli

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

Salvatore Nunnari

Bocconi University ( email )

Via Sarfatti, 25
Milan, MI 20136
Italy

Bocconi University - IGIER - Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research

Via Roentgen 1
Milan, 20136
Italy

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