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V-Dem Seminar with Bernard Grofman

Research profile seminar

Bernard Grofman (visiting scholar 18-24 June). Title: Reasonable Choice Models of Voter Turnout.

Abstract: Rational Choice models of voter turnout seemingly lead to empirically falsified expectations, such as most (or even all) voters being predicted not to vote. This has led some authors to reject rational choice models of turnout as completely useless. I show the usefulness of utility/incentive based approaches to turnout derived from what I have called a "reasonable choice" perspective that takes into account the key elements of rational choice models: P, B, C , and D. This perspective (a) recognizes that people generally have more than one reason for the things that they do, and that they sometimes do things for reasons that even they do not fully understand. (b) It acknowledges that those reasons almost always include factors that cannot be described in terms of consequences for specific outcomes such as who wins an election. (c)It looks at turnout in terms of what economists call "comparative statics," i.e. looks at how changes in the level of various explanatory variables affects changes in turnout, rather than trying to predict whether or not someone will vote, and thus does not seek to predict absolute levels of turnout but only relative levels of turnout. (d) It recognizes that common sense approaches to explaining turnout variations, including ones often regarded as antithetical to rational choice, such as the Gerber, Green and Shachar (2003) concept of consuetude, may readily be given incentive and information based interpretations of the sort that might be offered by an economist. For example, a reasonable choice approach leads us to ask questions like "When is voting most likely to become a habit?" and (e) A reasonable approach to voter turnout generates the expectation that most policy interventions designed to raise turnout levels will have only very limited effects. Bio: Bernard Grofman is Professor of Political Science and Jack W Peltason Endowed Chair of Democracy Studies at the University of California, Irvine, and former Director of the UCI Center for the Study of Democracy. His research deals with topics such as theories of representation (including minority voting rights and the comparative study of electoral rules and constitutional design), party competition, and behavioral social choice; with recent work also on political persuasion and satire. He is co-author of five books (four from Cambridge University Press and one from Yale University Press), and co-editor of 23 other books; with over 300 research articles and book chapters, including ten in the American Political Science Review. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2001, he has been a scholar-in-residence at universities and research centers in the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, and he has an honorary Ph.D. from the University of Copenhagen. His work on redistricting has been cited in nearly a dozen U.S. Supreme Court cases over the course of the past four decades. In 2015, while serving as a Special Master for a federal district court, he drew new court-ordered congressional districts for the State of Virginia that were used in the 2016 elections. In 2017 he won the Charles Merriam award, given biennially by the American Political Science Association for lifetime achievement in research applications in the area of public policy.

Date: 6/20/2018

Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Categories: Social Sciences

Organizer: Department of Political Science/V-Dem

Location: B336, Stora Skansen

Contact person: Natalia Stepanova

Page Manager: |Last update: 8/16/2010
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