Why Votes Have a Value
51 Pages Posted: 17 Dec 2007 Last revised: 19 Dec 2010
Date Written: December 11, 2010
We perform an experiment where subjects bid for the right to participate in a vote and where the theoretical value of the voting right is zero if subjects are fully rational. We find that experimental subjects are willing to pay for the right to vote and that they do so for instrumental reasons. A model of instrumental voting behavior is consistent with our results if individuals are overconfident, overestimate the errors of other players, and also overestimate how often they themselves are pivotal for the outcome. Eliciting beliefs about pivotality shows that individuals value the right to vote more, the more they overestimate their probability of being pivotal. Eliciting beliefs about pivotality reduces the willingness to pay for the right to vote.
Keywords: Voting, dual-class shares, paradox of voting, experimental economics, instrumental voting, expressive voting
JEL Classification: C92, D72, G32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation