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Attitude-Dependent Altruism, Turnout and Voting


  • Rotemberg, Julio J.


This paper presents a goal-oriented model of political participation based on two psychological assumptions. The first is that people are more altruistic towards individuals that agree with them and the second is that people’s well being rises when other people share their personal opinions. By conveying credible information on attitudes, votes give pleasure to individuals who agree with them and thereby confer vicarious utility on voters. Substantial equilibrium turnout emerges with nontrivial voting costs and modest altruism. The model can explain higher turnout in close elections as well as higher turnout by more informed and more educated individuals. For certain parameters, the model predicts that third party candidates will lose votes to more popular candidates, a phenomenon often called strategic voting. For other parameters, the model predicts ‘vote-stealing’ where the addition of a third candidate robs a major candidate of electoral support.

Suggested Citation

  • Rotemberg, Julio J., 2005. "Attitude-Dependent Altruism, Turnout and Voting," CEPR Discussion Papers 5146, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:5146

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    13. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2008. "Minimally acceptable altruism and the ultimatum game," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 66(3-4), pages 457-476, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Giebe, Thomas & Gürtler, Oliver, 2012. "Optimal contracts for lenient supervisors," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 403-420.
    2. Kovenock, Dan & Roberson, Brian, 2011. "Non-partisan ‘get-out-the-vote’ efforts and policy outcomes," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 728-739.
    3. R. Aytimur & Aristotelis Boukouras & Robert Schwager, 2014. "Voting as a signaling device," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(3), pages 753-777, April.
    4. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Behavioral political economy: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 395-417.
    5. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2014. "Behavioral public choice: A survey," Freiburg Discussion Papers on Constitutional Economics 14/03, Walter Eucken Institut e.V..
    6. Panova, Elena, 2015. "A passion for voting," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 44-65.
    7. Landi, M. & Sodini, M., 2012. "An evolutionary analysis of turnout with conformist citizens," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 36(10), pages 1431-1447.
    8. van Rijn, Jordan & Barham, Bradford & Sundaram-Stukel, Reka, 2016. "An Experimental Approach to Comparing Similarity- and Guilt-Based Charitable Appeals," Staff Paper Series 584, University of Wisconsin, Agricultural and Applied Economics.
    9. repec:eee:soceco:v:68:y:2017:i:c:p:25-40 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Rotemberg, Julio J., 2014. "Charitable giving when altruism and similarity are linked," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 36-49.
    11. Hamlin, Alan & Jennings, Colin, 2011. "Expressive Political Behaviour: Foundations, Scope and Implications," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 41(03), pages 645-670, July.
    12. Jean-Robert Tyran & Alexander K. Wagner, 2016. "Experimental Evidence on Expressive Voting," Discussion Papers 16-12, University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    13. van der Pol, Thomas & Weikard, Hans-Peter & van Ierland, Ekko, 2012. "Can altruism stabilise international climate agreements?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C), pages 112-120.
    14. Adam Pigoń, 2013. "What Affects Voter Turnout? Macro and Micro Evidence from Poland," Collegium of Economic Analysis Annals, Warsaw School of Economics, Collegium of Economic Analysis, issue 32, pages 77-105.

    More about this item


    altruism; elections; turnout; voting;

    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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