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Trading off the benefits and costs of choice: Evidence from Australian elections

Matthew Nagler ()

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 2015, vol. 114, issue C, 1-12

Abstract: I investigate the robust predictions of a theory on the costs and benefits of dealing with increased numbers of choices in an election context. My data consist of a rich array of measures of voting behaviors and corresponding ballot and voter population characteristics for a panel of electoral districts from three Australian federal election cycles. I examine how the number of candidates and voting tickets on the ballot, as well as key moderating variables, affect the share of voters (1) opting for a simplified alternative to the baseline voting process; and (2) intentionally casting an invalid ballot. The findings indicate that incremental options can increase or decrease motivation to engage in a choice process; the overall pattern of results appears consistent with a diminishing returns model of expanded choice. Voters appear to trade off costs and benefits rationally in their decisions concerning how and whether to make choices. Public policies and private strategies should leverage moderating variables to encourage participation in choice processes and should account for opt-out tendencies at both ends of the choice spectrum.

Keywords: Individual decision-making; Choice overload; Voter participation; Motivation; Panel data (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D12 C23 D81 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015
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DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2015.03.004

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