Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting

  title={Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting},
  author={Timothy Feddersen},
  journal={Journal of Economic Perspectives},
  • T. Feddersen
  • Published 1 February 2004
  • Economics
  • Journal of Economic Perspectives
At least since Downs’s (1957) seminal work An Economic Theory of Democracy, rational choice theorists have appreciated the “paradox of not voting.” In a large election, the probability that an individual vote might change the election outcome is vanishingly small. If each person only votes for the purpose of influencing the election outcome, then even a small cost to vote—like a minor schedule conflict or mildly bad weather—should dissuade anyone from voting. Yet it seems that many people will… 
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