Costly Voting: A Large-Scale Real Effort Experiment
33 Pages Posted: 6 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 24, 2017
We test the turnout predictions of the standard two-party, private value, costly voting model through a large-scale, real effort experiment. We do this by recruiting 1,200 participants through Amazon's Mechanical Turk and employing a 2 x 2 between subjects design encompassing small (N=30) and large (N=300) elections, as well as close and one-sided elections. We find partial evidence of selfish instrumental voting. Participants with a higher opportunity cost are less likely to vote (cost effect); turnout rate decreases as the electorate size increases (size effect) in one-sided elections and increases the closer the election is (competition effect) in large elections. Contrary to the theoretical predictions, in large one-sided elections the majority turns out to vote at a higher rate than the minority. We propose an alternative theory assuming that voters obtain a small non-monetary utility if they vote and their party wins.
Keywords: Costly Voting, Turnout, Field Experiment, Real Effort, Amazon's Mechanical Turk
JEL Classification: C93, D72, C72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation