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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

Leo Robinson's definition
Adejimi Reply
how is equilibrium defined in financial markets?
Babakura Reply
the concept of it
DALOM
Country A has export sales 20 billion, government purchases 1000billion, business investment is 50 billion, imports are 40billion, and consumption spending is 2000billin. What is the dollar value of GDP ?
Habtamu Reply
what is determination of national income?
Waqar Reply
economic growth
Rukaiya
stock of capital
Rukaiya
we're RBI keep money with them
Anil
Y =C+l
Favour
evaluate the success affirmative action as one of south Africa's redress method
Tebatso Reply
what is market equilibrium
explorer Reply
it is a situation in which the supply of an item is exactly equal to it dd .
Ssmith
inder wat condition shld a firm stop production in both short n lungrun ?
Ssmith
what is 2nd degree price discrimination?
Ssmith
what is quantity
Tettey
what is quantity2
Deji Reply
An indefinite amount of something.
explorer
what is demand
Kaman Reply
in ordinary sense demand means desire
Khalid
demand in economics means both willingness as well as the ability to purchase a commodity by paying a price an also its actuall purchase
Khalid
what is absolute advantage
Khalid
demand refers to the various quantity of goods and services that consumers are willing and able to purchase at a particular period of time all other things been equal
Dela
The amount of a good or service that consumers are willing to buy at a particular price.
explorer
what is cost pull inflation?
oru
what is utility
oru
what is cost pull inflation?
oru
demand is economic principle referring to a consumer's desire and willingness to pay a price for a specific or service..
Babakura
utility is the among of certisfaction driving from using a comundity
Anas
pull cost of inflation hight population unemployment to some of The country members poor government system
Anas
what is a buffer scheme
Lukong
state the second law of demand and supply
Ahmadou Reply
state the law of diminishing marginal utility
Ahmadou
dt know WATS the answer
Rukundo
mention and explain two Bank I financial institutions and two non baking financial institutions
Onah Reply
wat is demand pull inflation
Tony Reply
Demand-pull inflation is asserted to arise when aggregate demandin an economy outpaces aggregate supply. It involvesinflation rising as real gross domestic product rises and unemployment falls, as the economy moves along the Phillips curve.
kevin
Perfectly elastic demand
Abubakar Reply
this is a form of demand where goods are demanded at a constant price
Rukundo
what inelastic demanding
Koire
demand of any good demanded more after a certain period. if a commodity prices may high and scarcity of that resources.
Anil
cannot demand more
Anil
what is cross-elasticity of demand
Miles Reply
cross elasticity of demand is an economic concept that measures the responsiveness in the quantity demand of one good when a change in price takes place in other good
Mallekha
this is responsiveness quantity demanded keeping other factors constant
Rukundo
what economic growth
Rukundo Reply
conditions of perfect market
NdzAlama Reply
CONDITIONS OF PERFECT MARKET: 1. Perfect competition(PC): no increasing returns, many buyers and sellers, all are price takers, not prices makers. 2. Perfect Information (PI): buyers and sellers know all they need to know about what they are buying and selling to make the right decisions.
Mallekha
3. Complete Markets(CM): no externalities or public goods, no transactions costs, "thick" markets.
Mallekha
nice contributor
Mohammed
A numerous downsized market that does not meet standards.
LaTasha
A Perfect Market is a numerous downsized market that does not meet standards.
LaTasha
what is a market
Ahmadou
is place where buyers and sellers met together for the purpose of buying and selling of good and services
Babakura

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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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