Working Paper No. 12-36:
Unequal Altruism and the Voting Paradox


Tun-Jen Chiang

Date Posted: April 2012

Abstract (below) | Full text (most recent) on SSRN


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.