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Evolution & Voting: How Nature Makes us Public Spirited

  • John Conley

    ()

    (University of Illinois)

  • Myrna H. Wooders

    ()

    (University of Warwick)

  • Ali Toossi

    ()

    (University of Illinois)

If one assumes that voters are rational, the most plausible explanation for high voter turnouts seems to be that agents receive benefits from the act of voting itself. We show that public-spirited agents have an evolutionary advantage over those who are not as public-spirited for a range of situations. We also explore conditions under which this kind of altruistic behavior is disadvantageous to agents. The details depend on the costs of voting, the degree to which different types of agents have different preferences over public policies and the relative proportions of various preference types in the population. We conclude that evolution may often be a force that causes agents to internalize the benefits their actions confer on others.

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Article provided by AccessEcon in its journal Economics Bulletin.

Volume (Year): 28 (2001)
Issue (Month): 24 ()
Pages: A0

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Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-01aa0028
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