Sociology and Anthropology Vol. 6(4), pp. 375 - 385
DOI: 10.13189/sa.2018.060404
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Are Voters Myopic? An Empirical Analysis

Richard Jankowski *
Political Science Department, State University of New York, Fredonia, United States


There is abundant evidence that voters are relatively uninformed about government. But, economic retrospective voting, via the "miracle of aggregation", overcomes this problem in democracies. However, there is also evidence that voters are myopic. Hence, voters can be manipulated by an adept administration. I review past empirical studies of myopic voting. I argue that they are characterized by two limitations: one, they assume a unidimensional issue space; and two, they rely on ecological inference, because they use aggregate economic performance and election results to infer myopic voting. Achen and Bartels [1] update previous empirical studies by including an increased number of elections and using a control for the multidimensionality of the issue space, i.e., voters' choice is based on issues other than the economy. But their analysis, based on aggregate data, still requires an ecological inference. By contrast, Hellwig and Marinova [2] present a unique micro-level study, designed by them that measure the time-horizon of individuals and thus avoid the ecological inference problem. However, their study still assumes a unidimensional issue space. I address both the multidimensionality and ecological inference problems by retesting both the Achen and Bartels' and Hellwig and Marinova studies. I find the preponderance of evidence rejects the myopia hypothesis.

Myopia, Voting, Economic Retrospective Voting, Multidimensionality, Ecological Inference

Cite this paper
Richard Jankowski . "Are Voters Myopic? An Empirical Analysis." Sociology and Anthropology 6.4 (2018) 375 - 385. doi: 10.13189/sa.2018.060404.