Political information acquisition for social exchange

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Working paper
Gani Aldashev
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We model political information acquisition in large elections, where the probability of being pivotal is negligible. Our model builds on the assumption that informed citizens enjoy discussing politics with other informed citizens. The resulting information acquisition game exhibits strategic complementarities. We find that information acquisition depends negatively on the social distance between citizens. Next, we build an application of the model to the distributive politics game. Equilibrium policies are biased towards regions/groups with lower social distance between citizens. Finally, we present evidence for the basic model's main prediction based on the data from the 2000 U.S. National Elections Study. Citizens with a shorter residence span (thus having a less developed local social network, i.e. facing a larger social distance) acquire significantly less political information than the otherwise similar long-term residents.
Developed by Paolo Gittoi