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date: 20 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter contrasts rational-choice predictions of voter behavior with observations from laboratory and field experiments. Specifically, the authors discuss voters’ party choice and turnout decisions, both for elections under proportional representation and with plurality rule. The first part of the chapter studies turnout and finds mixed support for the comparative statics predicted by the rational-choice framework. In the second part, voters’ party choices are analyzed and it is shown that if we allow for non-selfish preferences, observed behavior is overall in line with the rational-choice approach. The third, and final, part of the chapter analyzes turnout behavior and party choice simultaneously so as to highlight the potential interaction effects between the two. While this question has not received much attention in the literature, the limited evidence currently available is broadly in line with rational-choice predictions.

Keywords: experiment, rational choice, election, turnout decision, party choice, proportional representation, plurality rule

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