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A Classroom Exercise: Voting by Ballots and Feet

Listed author(s):
  • Roger Hewett


    (Department of Economics and Finance, Drake University)

  • Charles A. Holt


    (Department of Economics, University of Virginia)

  • Georgia Kosmopoulou


    (Department of Economics, University of Oklahoma)

  • Christine Kymn


    (Law School, George Mason University)

  • Cheryl X. Long


    (Department of Economics, Colgate University)

  • Shabnam Mousavi


    (Department of Economics, Virginia Tech)

  • Sudipta Sarangi


    (Department of Economics, Louisiana State University)

This classroom experiment illustrates the efficiency-enhancing property of a Tiebout system in which local public goods decisions are determined by a political process. Students are given playing cards that induce diverse preferences for expenditures on alternative public goods and are initially assigned to specific communities. Then those in each community vote on the type and level of public goods provision, which determine the tax cost. After the provision and tax results are announced, students are free to move to a location where the prior results are more consistent with their preferences. This process continues for several rounds, with a new vote taken at each location after moves have been made. The exercise demonstrates that the combination of voting with feet and ballots tends to increase the total net benefit for all communities. The voting on provision levels is structured to facilitate a discussion of the median voter theorem.

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Article provided by Southern Economic Association in its journal Southern Economic Journal.

Volume (Year): 72 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (July)
Pages: 253-263

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Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:72:1:y:2005:p:253-263
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