Social Preferences and Voting: An Exploration Using a Novel Preference Revealing Mechanism
Messer, Kent D.
Poe, Gregory L.
Schulze, William D.
Public referenda are frequently used to determine the provision of public goods. As public programs have distributional consequences, a compelling question is what role if any social preferences have on voting behavior. This paper explores this issue using laboratory experiments wherein voting outcomes lead to a known distribution of net benefits across participants. Preferences are elicited using a novel Random Price Voting Mechanism (RPVM), which is a more parsimonious mechanism than dichotomous choice referenda, but gives consistent results. Results suggest that social preferences, in particular a social efficiency motive, lead to economically meaningful deviations from self-interested voting choices and increase the likelihood that welfare-enhancing programs are implemented.
Institutional and Behavioral Economics, Research Methods/ Statistical Methods, C91, C92, D64, D72, H41,
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