Unequal Altruism and the Voting Paradox

37 Pages Posted: 7 Apr 2012 Last revised: 18 Apr 2012

Tun-Jen Chiang

George Mason University School of Law

Date Written: April 6, 2012


In the altruism model of voting, the social benefits of an electoral outcome is considered to offset the low probability of casting a decisive vote, thereby overcoming the voting paradox. One problem with this model is that it assumes both a clearly superior electoral outcome for society and some probability of a tied vote. These two propositions stand in tension with each other.

This Article presents a modified model of altruistic voting. It assumes voter altruism toward selected groups instead of toward the general population. The unequally altruistic voter model not only overcomes the deficiencies of the Edlin, Gelman and Kaplan (2008) model, but also has implications for an integrated analysis of voter turnout, candidate selection, and interest group strategy.

Keywords: voting paradox, altruism, median voter, selective altruism

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Chiang, Tun-Jen, Unequal Altruism and the Voting Paradox (April 6, 2012). George Mason Law & Economics Research Paper No. 12-36. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2035566 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2035566

Tun-Jen Chiang (Contact Author)

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

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