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

Inst. for Empirical Research in Economics Working Paper No. 119

36 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2002

See all articles by Matthias Benz

Matthias Benz

University of Zurich - Department of Economics

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: November 2002

Abstract

Public choice theory takes citizens as rationally ignorant about political issues, because the costs of being informed greatly exceed the utility individuals derive from it. The costs of information (supply side) as well as the utility of information (demand side), however, can vary substantially depending on the political system under which citizens live. Using survey data from the European Union and Switzerland, we present empirical evidence that citizens are politically better informed when they have more extended political participation rights. The results corroborate theoretical arguments and circumstantial evidence that voter information should be treated as endogenously determined by political institutions.

Keywords: voter competence, direct democracy, information costs, rational ignorance

JEL Classification: D70, D80, H00

Suggested Citation

Benz, Matthias and Stutzer, Alois, Are Voters Better Informed When They Have a Larger Say in Politics? Evidence for the European Union and Switzerland (November 2002). Inst. for Empirical Research in Economics Working Paper No. 119. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=316694 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.316694

Matthias Benz (Contact Author)

University of Zurich - Department of Economics ( email )

Zuerich, 8006
Switzerland

Alois Stutzer

University of Basel - Faculty of Business and Economics ( email )

Peter Merian-Weg 6
4002 Basel
Switzerland
0041 61 267 3361 (Phone)
0041 61 267 3340 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.wwz.unibas.ch/stutzer/

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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