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Voting by Ballots and Feet in the Laboratory


  • Alessandro Innocenti
  • Chiara Rapallini

    () (University of Siena and LabSi
    University of Florence)


This paper provides laboratory evidence on the efficiency-enhancing properties of the Tiebout model as a decentralized system of public goods provision. Tiebout (1956) shows that if a sufficient number of local communities exist to accommodate different types of preferences, individuals sort themselves in a way that provides an efficient allocation of public goods and taxes. Our experiment aims to disentangle the effect of voting participation from other factors and is composed of two treatments. In the non-participation treatment, local public good provision is chosen by only one subject, while other members of the community can only stay in or move to another community. In the participation treatment, all the community members have the right to vote as well as to move to another community and collective decisions are taken by majority rule. Our findings show that social welfare is greater in the participation than in the non-participation treatment. We conclude that voting with one?s feet increases efficiency if all the community members vote and that the influence of voting participation on the allocation of local public goods should be taken into account to assess the viability of the Tiebout model.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandro Innocenti & Chiara Rapallini, 2011. "Voting by Ballots and Feet in the Laboratory," Giornale degli Economisti, GDE (Giornale degli Economisti e Annali di Economia), Bocconi University, vol. 70(1), pages 3-24, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gde:journl:gde_v70_n1_p3-24

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Daniele Checchi, 2002. "Formazione e percorsi lavorativi dei laureati dell'Università degli Studi di Milano," Departmental Working Papers 2002-14, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
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    6. Gabriele Ballarino & Massimiliano Bratti, 2009. "Field of Study and University Graduates' Early Employment Outcomes in Italy during 1995-2004," LABOUR, CEIS, vol. 23(3), pages 421-457, September.
    7. Daniele CHECCHI & Stefano Maria IACUS & Giuseppe PORRO, 2004. "Formazione e percorsi lavorativi dei laureati dell'Università degli Studi di Milano (IIa edizione: laureati 1999)," Departmental Working Papers 2004-04, Department of Economics, Management and Quantitative Methods at Università degli Studi di Milano.
    8. Green, Paul E & Srinivasan, V, 1978. " Conjoint Analysis in Consumer Research: Issues and Outlook," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(2), pages 103-123, Se.
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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Valeria Faralla & Alessandro Innocenti & Stefano Taddei & Eva Venturini, 2013. "Physiological Responses to Stressful Work Situations in Low-Immersive Virtual Environments," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 047, University of Siena.
    2. Valeria Faralla & Alessandro Innocenti & Eva Venturini, 2013. "Risk Taking and Social Exposure," Labsi Experimental Economics Laboratory University of Siena 046, University of Siena.
    3. Jeffrey V. Butler & Enrica Carbone & Pierluigi Conzo & Giancarlo Spagnolo, 2012. "Reputation and Entry," EIEF Working Papers Series 1215, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF), revised Nov 2012.
    4. Carbone, Enrica & Infante, Gerardo, 2015. "Are groups better planners than individuals? An experimental analysis," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 112-119.
    5. Christoph Engel & Bettina Rockenbach, 2014. "Give Everybody a Voice! The Power of Voting in a Public Goods Experiment with Externalities," Discussion Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2014_16, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
    6. Alessandro Innocenti & Francesca Lorini & Chiara Rapallini, 2014. "Ethnic Heterogeneity, Voting Partecipation and Local Economic Growth. The Case of Belgium," Working Papers - Economics wp2014_03.rdf, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.

    More about this item


    Tiebout model; local public goods; voting participation; federalism; experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D23 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Organizational Behavior; Transaction Costs; Property Rights


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