Patience as a Political Virtue: Delayed Gratification and Turnout

Political Behavior, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 113-128, June 2006

25 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2007

See all articles by James H. Fowler

James H. Fowler

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences; UC San Diego School of Medicine

Cindy D. Kam

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science

Abstract

A number of scholars have demonstrated that voter turnout is influenced by the costs of processing information and going to the polls, and the policy benefits associated with the outcome of the election. However, no one has yet noted that the costs of voting are paid on and before Election Day while policy benefits may not materialize until several days, months, or even years later. Since the costs of voting must be borne before the benefits are realized, people who are more patient should be more willing to vote. We use a "choice game" from experimental economics to estimate individual discount factors which are used to measure patience. We then show that patience significantly increases voter turnout.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, James H. and Kam, Cindy D., Patience as a Political Virtue: Delayed Gratification and Turnout. Political Behavior, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 113-128, June 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1007996

James H. Fowler (Contact Author)

UC San Diego Division of Social Sciences ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

UC San Diego School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

HOME PAGE: http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu

Cindy D. Kam

Vanderbilt University - Department of Political Science ( email )

VU Station B #351817
Nashville, TN 37235-1817
United States

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