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Altruistic punishment in elections

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  • Aimone, Jason A.
  • Butera, Luigi
  • Stratmann, Thomas

Abstract

Altruistic punishment is a fundamental driver for cooperation in human interactions. In this paper, we expand our understanding of this form of pro-social behavior to help explain a puzzle of voting: why do individuals who are indifferent between two potential policy outcomes of an election participate when voting is costly? Using a simple voting experiment, we provide robust evidence that many voters are willing to engage in voting as a form of punishment, even when voting is costly and the voter has no monetary stake in the election outcome. In our sample, and in a robustness check through Monte Carlo simulation, we show that at least fourteen percent of individuals are willing to incur a cost to vote against candidates who broke their electoral promises, even when they have no pecuniary interest in the election outcome.

Suggested Citation

  • Aimone, Jason A. & Butera, Luigi & Stratmann, Thomas, 2018. "Altruistic punishment in elections," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 149-160.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:poleco:v:53:y:2018:i:c:p:149-160
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ejpoleco.2017.08.001
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting; Altruistic punishment; Laboratory experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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