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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

Demand is the various quantities of goods and services that consumer(s)are willing and able to purchase at a price within a time
Muhammad Reply
What is demand
Mc Reply
Distinguish between cross elasticity and income elasticity of demand
Ruth Reply
Distinguish between cross elasticity and income elasticity of demand
Ruth
if change in the demand of the commodity with respect to change in demand of the substitute or other product called cross elasticity
Hamza
and. if change in the demand of the commodity due to change in the income . called income elasticity
Hamza
👍
Vipul
Cross elasticity of demand is the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a commodity to a small change in price of another commodity whiles Income elasticity of demand is the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a commodity to a small change in income of it's consumers
Afriyie
but these are book wordings
Hamza
income elasticity of demand shows how quantity demanded changes due to changes in income on the other hand cross elasticity refers to how the quantity demanded of a particular good alers given a change in the price of another good.
Keysie
what is the competitive demand
Adiza Reply
Income
Sanni
With regards to coal shortage and manicipal debts the what form of intervention do you think Eskom can put in place.
kedibone Reply
economic growth of Bhutan
Nima Reply
please, explain all the mathematics terms used in economics
nelson
The answer is: little more than high school algebra and graphs.
Tere
what is the effect of inflation in GDP
ahmed Reply
Not only real GDP but also nominal GDP will decrease
Aqib
yep. Inflation has an influence not only GDP but interest rate also.
Hamza
The pound weakens so imports become more expensive and exports lose value - lower GDP.
Rebecca
why do inflation effect economic
Chelsea Reply
explain in detail what is economic what is scarcity what is alternate uses
Ejiro Reply
What is law of demand
Hilary
economic as a science refers to study of human resource
Kaunda
Law of demand- With all the factors remaining same if price increases of a commodity, the quantity of demand of that commodity decreases and vice versa
Dey
Thanks dey sunita
Hilary
What is law of supply
Hilary
what are the factors that affect demand
Elly Reply
what are the factors that affect demand of a good
Elly
what are the factors that affect demand of a good
Elly
what are the factors that affect demand of a commodity
Elly
1. the price of the product 2. the price of other products 3. consumers income 4. expectation of future changes in price 5. taste and preference etc.
ALI
Change in price
Hilary
1. price related of commodities 2. consumers income 3. the condition or season of the commodities
Tsai
decrease in demand of substitute increase in demand of constituent change in quantity and other environmental factors
Hamza
Nd consumer's income
Hamza
what course scarcity
Bashari Reply
Scarcity is the limited availability of a commodity, which may be in demand in the market or by the commons. Scarcity also includes an individual's lack of resources to buy commodities. The opposite of scarcity is abundance.
Marc
Reasons that explain why the division of labor increases an economy's level of production
Chukwuka Reply
Please I don't understand the meaning and the concept of economics as a science
Ophelia Reply
economics as a science refers to the study of human behavior. how they make decisions etc
Saidou
economics is science because it uses scientific methods in analysing societal problems.. observation experimentation and conclusion inherently are used to analyse. however it is not pure science but social science because it studies human and it's environs
Bonney
what's elasticity of demand
Isaac Reply
are u asking because you don't know or what
Stephen
A measure of the responsiveness of a product demanded to a change in market price
Yuusuf
the degree of responsiveness of a product demanded to a little change in the price
Saidou
the degree of responsiveness of quantity demanded of a commodity to the changes in the price if the commodity in question, changes in the price of other related commodities and changes in the income of consumer
Bonney
what is international trade
Kwame Reply
international trade is a trade between foreign country
IYke
it is the exchange of goods and services between countries
Bonney
it's the exchange of goods and services from one foreign country to another
Israel

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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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