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
Date Written: November 2002
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: Suggested Citation