Attitude-Dependent Altruism, Turnout and Voting

44 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2005

See all articles by Julio J. Rotemberg

Julio J. Rotemberg

Harvard University, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit (deceased); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) (deceased)

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Date Written: July 2005

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Voting, elections, turnout, altruism

JEL Classification: D64, D72

Suggested Citation

Rotemberg, Julio J., Attitude-Dependent Altruism, Turnout and Voting (July 2005). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 5146. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=785210

Julio J. Rotemberg (Contact Author)

Harvard University, Business, Government and the International Economy Unit (deceased) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States
617-495-1015 (Phone)
617-496-5994 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) (deceased)

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