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The Elgar Companion to Public Economics

The Elgar Companion to Public Economics

Empirical Public Economics

Elgar original reference

Edited by Attiat F. Ott and Richard J. Cebula

Attiat Ott and Richard Cebula have recognised the need to present, in an accessible and straightforward way, the voluminous literature in the public economics arena. Advances in econometric techniques and the spillover of knowledge from other disciplines made it difficult, not only for students but also for lecturers, to accurately find the information they need.

Chapter 15: An Extension of the Rational Voter Model

Richard J. Cebula and Gordon Tullock

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public choice


Richard J. Cebula and Gordon Tullock Introduction Many economists, political scientists, policy makers, journalists and others have long been intrigued by and have long been attempting to resolve the problems that are encountered, within a democratic process and system, in inducing voters to reveal their true preferences for public and quasi-public goods and services. Explaining the so-called ‘paradox of voting’ has occupied the minds and efforts of numerous scholars. Participating in the election of public officials (voting) and expressing preferences (voting) for a variety of referendums on a wide range of issues is a fundamental component of the determination of the magnitude and form of government outlay (and tax) decisions, and hence plays a significant role in efficient societal resource allocation. The perception that the voter participation rate in the US is not only low relative to the other industrialized democratic nations but also has even been in a state of modest decline, albeit erratically so, during the last several decades therefore is an issue of increasing concern. Since Downs (1957) first introduced the theory of the ‘rational voter’, there have followed numerous and varied theoretical extensions and empirical studies to enhance, test, and better understand the theory or variants thereof in a variety of both ‘real world’ and ‘experimental’ contexts (for example, Tullock, 1967; Buchanan, 1968; Riker and Ordeshook, 1968; Brazel and Silberberg, 1973; Ashenfelter and Kelly, 1975; Wolfinger and Rosenstone, 1980; Kafoglis and Cebula, 1981; Cebula and Kafoglis, 1983; Ledyard, 1984; Aldrich and Simon,...

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