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Altruism and Voting: A Large-Turnout Result That Does not Rely on Civic Duty or Cooperative Behavior

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  • Özgür Evren

    () (New Economic School)

Abstract

I propose a game-theoretic model of costly voting that predicts signi cant turnout rates even when the electorate is arbitrarily large. The model has two key features that jointly drive the result: (i) some agents are altruistic (or ethical), (ii) among the agents who prefer any given candidate, the fraction of altruistic agents is uncertain. When deciding whether to vote or not, an altruistic agent compares her private voting cost with the expected contribution of her vote to the welfare of the society. Under suitable homogeneity assumptions, the asymptotic predictions of my model coincide with those of Feddersen and Sandroni (2006a) up to potential differences between the respective parameters that measure the importance of the election. I demonstrate with an example that these homogeneity assumptions are not necessary for qualitative predictions of my model. I also show that when the fractions of altruistic agents are known, turnout rates will typically be close to zero in a large election, despite the presence of altruism.

Suggested Citation

  • Özgür Evren, 2012. "Altruism and Voting: A Large-Turnout Result That Does not Rely on Civic Duty or Cooperative Behavior," Working Papers w0173, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  • Handle: RePEc:cfr:cefirw:w0173
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Herrera, Helios & Martinelli, Cesar, 2006. "Group formation and voter participation," Theoretical Economics, Econometric Society, vol. 1(4), pages 461-487, December.
    2. Marco Faravelli & Randall Walsh, 2011. "Smooth Politicians and Paternalistic Voters: A Theory of Large Elections," NBER Working Papers 17397, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    5. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "The calculus of ethical voting," International Journal of Game Theory, Springer;Game Theory Society, vol. 35(1), pages 1-25, December.
    6. Tilman Borgers, 2004. "Costly Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 57-66, March.
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    12. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "A Theory of Participation in Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1271-1282, September.
    13. Andreoni, James, 1990. "Impure Altruism and Donations to Public Goods: A Theory of Warm-Glow Giving?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 100(401), pages 464-477, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Le Breton, Michel & Lepelley, Dominique & Smaoui, Hatem, 2012. "The Probability of Casting a Decisive Vote: From IC to IAC trhough Ehrhart's Polynomials and Strong Mixing," IDEI Working Papers 722, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.
    2. David Juárez-Luna & Christian Ghiglino, 2014. "Elite capture of democratic politics: the role of social identity," Working papers DTE 573, CIDE, División de Economía.
    3. Morton, Rebecca B. & Ou, Kai, 2015. "What motivates bandwagon voting behavior: Altruism or a desire to win?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 224-241.
    4. repec:esx:essedp:751 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Marco Faravelli & Santiago Sanchez-Pages, 2015. "(Don’t) Make My Vote Count," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 27(4), pages 544-569, October.
    6. Daniel Kling & Thomas Stratmann, 2016. "The Efficacy of Political Advertising: A Voter Participation Field Experiment with Multiple Robo Calls and Controls for Selection Effects," CESifo Working Paper Series 6195, CESifo Group Munich.
    7. Pedro Robalo & Arthur Schram & Joep Sonnemans, 2013. "Other-regarding Preferences, Group Identity and Political Participation: An Experiment," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 13-079/I, Tinbergen Institute.
    8. repec:eee:joepsy:v:62:y:2017:i:c:p:130-154 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Faravelli, Marco & Man, Priscilla & Walsh, Randall, 2015. "Mandate and paternalism: A theory of large elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 1-23.
    10. Gintis, Herbert, 2016. "Homo Ludens: Social rationality and political behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PB), pages 95-109.
    11. Marco Faravelli & Kenan Kalayci & Carlos Pimienta, 2017. "Costly Voting: A Large-scale Real Effort Experiment," Discussion Papers 2017-16, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.
    12. repec:kap:pubcho:v:172:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11127-017-0457-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. David Juárez-Luna & Christian Ghiglino, 2014. "Elite capture of democratic politics: the role of social identity," Working papers DTE 573, CIDE, División de Economía.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Altruism; Utilitarianism; Voting; Turnout; Pivotal Voter;

    JEL classification:

    • 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

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