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Pocketbook voting, social preferences, and expressive motives in referenda

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  • Meya, Johannes
  • Poutvaara, Panu
  • Schwager, Robert

Abstract

We develop and test a theory of voting and turnout decisions that integrates self-interest, social preferences, and expressive motives. Our empirical analysis studies referenda among university students about whether to collectively purchase deeply discounted flat rate tickets for public transportation and cultural amenities. Individual usage data allow quantifying the monetary benefits associated with each ticket. We find that monetary benefits strongly influence participation and voting. However, social or expressive motives such as stated altruism are decisive for a significant minority. Based on our theory, empirical results rule out purely expressive voting.

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  • Meya, Johannes & Poutvaara, Panu & Schwager, Robert, 2020. "Pocketbook voting, social preferences, and expressive motives in referenda," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 175(C), pages 185-205.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:175:y:2020:i:c:p:185-205
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2020.04.006
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    1. Stephan Schneider & Sven Kunze, 2021. "Disastrous Discretion: Ambiguous Decision Situations Foster Political Favoritism," KOF Working papers 21-491, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Pocketbook voting; Altruism; Expressive voting; Instrumental voting; Referendum;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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