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Pocketbook voting and social preferences in referenda

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  • Meya, Johannes
  • Poutvaara, Panu
  • Schwager, Robert

Abstract

We study the role of self-interest and social preferences in referenda. Our analysis is based on collective purchasing decisions of university students on deep-discount flat-rate tickets for public transportation and culture. Individual usage data allows quantifying monetary benefits associated with each ticket. We find that turnout is much higher among students who benefit a lot from having a ticket, suggesting instrumental voting. In each referendum, a majority votes in line with self-interest, providing strong evidence for pocketbook voting. However, social preferences like altruism, public good considerations and paternalism shift the vote of a sizeable minority against their own financial interest.

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  • Meya, Johannes & Poutvaara, Panu & Schwager, Robert, 2015. "Pocketbook voting and social preferences in referenda," VfS Annual Conference 2015 (Muenster): Economic Development - Theory and Policy 113120, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:vfsc15:113120
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    Cited by:

    1. Hillman, Arye L. & Metsuyanim, Kfir & Potrafke, Niklas, 2015. "Democracy with group identity," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 274-287.
    2. Philipp Harms & Claudi Landwehr, 2018. "Money is where the fun ends: material interests and individuals preference for direct democracy," Working Papers 1815, Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz.
    3. Avdeenko, Alexandra, 2018. "Long-term evidence of retrospective voting: A natural experiment from the German Democratic Republic," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 83-107.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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
    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers

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