Public Choice

, Volume 159, Issue 1, pp 159-176

First online:

Voters, dictators, and peons: expressive voting and pivotality

  • Emir KamenicaAffiliated withBooth School of Business, University of Chicago Email author 
  • , Louisa Egan BradAffiliated withKellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

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Why do the poor vote against redistribution? We examine one explanation experimentally, namely that individuals gain direct expressive utility from voting in accordance with their ideology and understand that they are unlikely to be pivotal; hence, their expressive utility, even if arbitrarily small, determines their voting behavior. In contrast with a basic prediction of this model, we find that the probability of being pivotal does not affect the impact of monetary interest on whether a subject votes for redistribution.


Redistribution Ideology Expressive voting