External validation of voter turnout models by concealed parameter recovery

Antonio Merlo, Thomas R. Palfrey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    We conduct a model validation analysis of several behavioral models of voter turnout, using laboratory data. We call our method of model validation concealedparameter recovery, where estimation of a model is done under a veil of ignorance about some of the experimentally controlled parameters—in this case voting costs. We use quantal response equilibrium as the underlying, common structure for estimation, and estimate models of instrumental voting, altruistic voting, expressive voting, and ethical voting. All the models except the ethical voting model recover the concealed parameters reasonably well. We also report the results of a counterfactual analysis based on the recovered parameters, to compare the policy implications of the different models about the cost of a subsidy to increase turnout.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)297-314
    Number of pages18
    JournalPublic Choice
    Issue number1-2
    StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


    • Concealed parameter recovery
    • Laboratory experiments
    • Model validation
    • Voter turnout

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Economics and Econometrics


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