Abstention in elections with asymmetric information and diverse preferences

Timothy J. Feddersen*, Wolfgang Pesendorfer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Scopus citations


We analyze a model of a two-candidate election with costless voting in which voters have asymmetric information and diverse preferences. We demonstrate that a strictly positive fraction of the electorate will abstain and that, nevertheless, elections effectively aggregate voters' private information. Using examples, we show that more informed voters are more likely to vote than their less informed counterparts. Increasing the fraction of the electorate that is informed, however, may lead to higher levels of abstention. We conclude by showing that a biased distribution of information can lead to a biased voting population but does not lead to biased outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-398
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Political Science Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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