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Revealed preferences for public goods: Applying a model of voter behavior


  • Arthur Schram
  • Frans Winden


Most analyses of preferences for government-supplied goods disregard the fact that in a democratic society, these preferences are revealed by an individual choice: the vote. In this paper this is taken account of in a model, explaining the dynamics in voting behavior in a multi-party system. The model assumes that voters may be categorized into K groups of individuals, pursuing the same interests, who remember how parties do in representing these interests (given the level to which they are held responsible for government policy). The model allows one to estimate party identification, sensitiveness to economic performances, time preference, and relative preferences for public versus private goods, all for each of the groups. Furthermore, the model allows for an estimation of the level to which various parties are held responsible for government policies. An empirical application of the model to the Netherlands is presented, albeit that data restrictions did not allow a distinction of more than one group. The results in terms of significance of the coefficients as well as the interpretation of the original parameters are promising. The two main conclusions are that the relative preference for private versus collective consumption is lower than the existing ratio in the Netherlands, and that two parties forming a government coalition are not held equally responsible for the policies. Financial support from the Netherlands Organization for the Advancement of Pure Research is gratefully acknowledged. Previous drafts of this paper were presented at the following congresses: The European Consortium for Political Research (Amsterdam, 10–15 April 1987); the Meeting of the European Public Choice Society (Reggio Calabria, 22–25 April 1987), and the Econometric Society European Meeting (Copenhagen, 24–28 August 1987). The participants in these sessions, as well as the participants in the seminar of the Sociological Institute of the University of Milan are gratefully acknowledged for their useful suggestions. Special thanks are due to Nathaniel Beck and Friedrich Schneider for carefully reading the manuscript and presenting helpful comments. Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Suggested Citation

  • Arthur Schram & Frans Winden, 1989. "Revealed preferences for public goods: Applying a model of voter behavior," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 60(3), pages 259-282, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:60:y:1989:i:3:p:259-282
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00159397

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frey, Bruno S & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "An Empirical Study of Politico-Economic Interaction in the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(2), pages 174-183, May.
    2. Himmelweit, Hilde T. & Biberian, Marianne Jaeger & Stockdale, Janet, 1978. "Memory for Past Vote: Implications of a Study of Bias in Recall," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(03), pages 365-375, July.
    3. Bergstrom, Theodore C & Goodman, Robert P, 1973. "Private Demands for Public Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 63(3), pages 280-296, June.
    4. Gibson, Betty Blecha, 1980. "Estimating Demand Elasticities for Public Goods from Survey Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(5), pages 1069-1076, December.
    5. Mark Isaac, R. & McCue, Kenneth F. & Plott, Charles R., 1985. "Public goods provision in an experimental environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(1), pages 51-74, February.
    6. Courant, Paul N & Gramlich, Edward M & Rubinfeld, Daniel L, 1979. "Public Employee Market Power and the Level of Government Spending," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(5), pages 806-817, December.
    7. Werner W. Pommerehne & Bruno S. Frey, 1976. "Two Approaches To Estimating Public Expenditures," Public Finance Review, , vol. 4(4), pages 395-407, October.
    8. Bert Jaarsma & Arthur Schram & Frans Winden, 1986. "On the voting participation of public bureaucrats," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 48(2), pages 183-187, January.
    9. Amemiya, Takeshi, 1981. "Qualitative Response Models: A Survey," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 1483-1536, December.
    10. Edward Clarke, 1971. "Multipart pricing of public goods," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 17-33, September.
    11. Hockley, G. C. & Harbour, G., 1983. "Revealed preferences between public expenditures and taxation cuts: Public sector choice," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 387-399, December.
    12. Schram, Arthur & van Winden, Frans, 1986. "An economic model of party choice in a multiparty system: An empirical application to The Netherlands," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 2(4), pages 465-497.
    13. James Ferris, 1983. "Demands for public spending: An attitudinal approach," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 40(2), pages 135-154, January.
    14. Tideman, T Nicolaus & Tullock, Gordon, 1976. "A New and Superior Process for Making Social Choices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 84(6), pages 1145-1159, December.
    15. Frey, Bruno S & Schneider, Friedrich, 1978. "A Politico-Economic Model of the United Kingdom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 88(350), pages 243-253, June.
    16. repec:cup:apsrev:v:77:y:1983:i:01:p:92-111_24 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Strauss, Robert P. & Hughes, G. David, 1976. "A new approach to the demand for public goods," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(3), pages 191-204, October.
    18. repec:cup:apsrev:v:76:y:1982:i:02:p:259-279_18 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. François Facchini, 1993. "Paysage et économie : la mise en évidence d'une solution de marché," Économie rurale, Programme National Persée, vol. 218(1), pages 12-18.
    2. David L. Ryan & Stuart Landon, 1998. "The Political Costs of Tax Reform: A Canadian Perspective," Agenda - A Journal of Policy Analysis and Reform, Australian National University, College of Business and Economics, School of Economics, vol. 5(1), pages 37-48.

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