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Social Preferences and Voting: An Exploration Using a Novel Preference Revealing Mechanism

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  • Messer, Kent D.
  • Poe, Gregory L.
  • Rondeau, Daniel
  • Schulze, William D.
  • Vossler, Christian A.

Abstract

Public referenda are frequently used to determine the provision of public goods. As public programs have distributional consequences, a compelling question is what role if any social preferences have on voting behavior. This paper explores this issue using laboratory experiments wherein voting outcomes lead to a known distribution of net benefits across participants. Preferences are elicited using a novel Random Price Voting Mechanism (RPVM), which is a more parsimonious mechanism than dichotomous choice referenda, but gives consistent results. Results suggest that social preferences, in particular a social efficiency motive, lead to economically meaningful deviations from self-interested voting choices and increase the likelihood that welfare-enhancing programs are implemented.

Suggested Citation

  • Messer, Kent D. & Poe, Gregory L. & Rondeau, Daniel & Schulze, William D. & Vossler, Christian A., 2008. "Social Preferences and Voting: An Exploration Using a Novel Preference Revealing Mechanism," Working Papers 51132, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:cudawp:51132
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.51132
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutional and Behavioral Economics; Research Methods/ Statistical Methods;

    JEL classification:

    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • 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

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