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Evolution & Voting: How Nature Makes us Public Spirited

Author

Listed:
  • John Conley

    () (University of Illinois)

  • Myrna H. Wooders

    () (University of Warwick)

  • Ali Toossi

    () (University of Illinois)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • John Conley & Myrna H. Wooders & Ali Toossi, 2001. "Evolution & Voting: How Nature Makes us Public Spirited," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 28(24), pages 1.
  • Handle: RePEc:ebl:ecbull:eb-01aa0028
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. John P. Conley & Akram Temimi, 2001. "Endogenous Enfranchisement When Groups' Preferences Conflict," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(1), pages 79-102, February.
    2. Ming Li & Dipjyoti Majumdar, 2010. "A Psychologically Based Model of Voter Turnout," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 12(5), pages 979-1002, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory

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