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By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Explain the significance of rational ignorance
  • Evaluate the impact of election expenses

In U.S. presidential elections over the last few decades, about 55% to 65% of voting-age citizens actually voted, according to the U.S. Census. In congressional elections when there is no presidential race, or in local elections, the turnout is typically lower, often less than half the eligible voters. In other countries, the share of adults who vote is often higher. For example, in national elections since the 1980s in Germany, Spain, and France, about 75% to 80% of those of voting age cast ballots. Even this total falls well short of 100%. Some countries have laws that require voting, among them Australia, Belgium, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Singapore, and most Latin American nations. At the time the United States was founded, voting was mandatory in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and Georgia. Even if the law can require people to vote, however, no law can require that each voter cast an informed or a thoughtful vote. Moreover, in the United States and in most countries around the world, the freedom to vote has also typically meant the freedom not to vote.

Why do people not vote? Perhaps they do not care too much about who wins, or they are uninformed about who is running, or they do not believe their vote will matter or change their lives in any way. Indeed, these reasons are probably tied together, since people who do not believe their vote matters will not bother to become informed or care who wins. Economists have suggested why a utility-maximizing person might rationally decide not to vote or not to become informed about the election. While a few elections in very small towns may be decided by a single vote, in most elections of any size, the margin of victory is measured in hundreds, thousands, or even millions of votes. A rational voter will recognize that one vote is extremely unlikely to make a difference. This theory of rational ignorance    holds that people will not vote if the costs of becoming informed and voting are too high, or they feel their vote will not be decisive in the election.

In a 1957 work, An Economic Theory of Democracy , the economist Anthony Downs stated the problem this way: “It seems probable that for a great many citizens in a democracy, rational behavior excludes any investment whatever in political information per se. No matter how significant a difference between parties is revealed to the rational citizen by his free information, or how uncertain he is about which party to support, he realizes that his vote has almost no chance of influencing the outcome… He will not even utilize all the free information available, since assimilating it takes time.” In his classic 1948 novel Walden Two , the psychologist B. F. Skinner puts the issue even more succinctly via one of his characters, who states: “The chance that one man’s vote will decide the issue in a national election…is less than the chance that he will be killed on his way to the polls.” The following Clear It Up feature explores another aspect of the election process: spending.

Questions & Answers

what is Price mechanism
Dhany Reply
introduction to economics
Uday Reply
welfare definition of economics
Uday
examine the wealth and welfare definitions of economics
Uday
What do we mean by Asian tigers
Aeesha Reply
Dm me I will tell u
Shailendra
Hi
Aeesha
hi
Pixel
What is Average revenue
KEMZO
How are u doing
KEMZO
it is so fantastic
metasebia
uday
Uday
what's a demand
Edward Reply
it is the quantity of commodities that consumers are willing and able to purchase at particular prices and at a given time
Munanag
quantity of commodities dgat consumers are willing to pat at particular price
Omed
demand depends upon 2 things 1wish to buy 2 have purchasing power of that deserving commodity except any from both can't be said demand.
Bashir
Demand is a various quantity of a commodities that a consumer is willing and able to buy at a particular price within a given period of time. All other things been equal.
Vedzi
State the law of demand
Vedzi
The desire to get something is called demand.
Mahabuba
what is the use of something should pay for its opportunity foregone to indicate?
Random Reply
Why in monopoly does the firm maximize profits when its marginal revenue equals marginal cost
astrid Reply
different between economic n history
Falma Reply
If it is known that the base change of RM45 million, the statutory proposal ratio of 7 per cent, and the public cash holding ratio of 5 per cent, what is the proposed ratio of bank surplus to generate a total deposit of RM 300 million? 
Jeslyne Reply
In a single bank system, a bank can create a deposit when it receives a new deposit in cash. If a depositor puts a cash deposit of RM10,000 into the bank, assume the statutory reserve requirement is 7% and the bank adopts a surplus reserve of 8%. a. Calculate the amount of deposits made at the end o
Jeslyne
the part of marginal revenue product curve lies in the _ stage of production is called form demand curve for variable input.
Bashir Reply
The cost associated with the inputs owned by the farmer is termed as
Bashir
the cost associated with inputs owned by the farmer is termed as ____
Bashir
why do we study economic
Nwobodo Reply
we study economics to know how to manage our limited resources
Eben
တစ်ဦးကျဝင်​ငွေ
myo
we study economics the know how to use our resources and where to put it
Mamoud
what is end
Nwobodo
we study economics to make rational decision
Gloria
we study economics only to know how to effectively and efficiently allocate our limited resource in other to meet our unlimited wants
Kpegba
We study economics inorder for us to know the difference of the needs and wants and aslo how to use the limited resources that are available
Bongani
who is the father of economy
Yajanyi Reply
adam smith
ibrahim
Adam smith
Somnath
professor Lionel Robins
Abraham
adam smith
albert
mariginal utility is finalized by who?
Barsharani
marshall
Aadi
Adam Smith
Laila
Adam smith
Mamoud
Adam Smith
Bongani
Adam smith
Veronica
adam smith barter system
Omed
why we study economics
Kitojo Reply
what is equilibrium price?
BENJAMIN Reply
This is the price In which quantity demanded is equal to the quantity supplied.
Binta
what is the principle of demand
Udoh
is when the price of two item is equal
Mamoud
is the market price at which the demand curve and supply curve of particular commodity interest.
Kpegba
can we say that without macroeconomics,microeconomics can succeed? and why?
Kpegba
equilibrium price is when prices are equal
Ramon
equilibrium price is a point at which demand and supply curve meet
Vedzi
please can you give us the correct answer after the lesson to be compared to our answers
Gloria Reply
in what?
ibrahim
why economics is the real life subject
Kitojo
because it is subjected to human decisions
Kpegba
why might an increase in money national income not necssarily lead to an increase in the standards of living
Multin
pls,who is a legal tender.can you explain well
Mary Reply
We think, that the legal tender is a form of payment of a debt or anything related, but which is not necessarily money. that can be bank notes, or coins for instance. but the bottom line is the legal tender is required to be recognized by the law, but it varies according to the jurisdiction.
Pierre
Thanks
Mary
Is it something like cheque
Mary
legal tender is anything that can be accepted for payment within a country
Tyson
good
Philo
is Something legally accepted in a particular place
Mamoud

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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