Voters, Dictators, and Peons: Expressive Voting and Pivotality

32 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2010 Last revised: 3 Jun 2014

Date Written: May 1, 2010


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

Keywords: redistribution, ideology, expressive voting

Suggested Citation

Kamenica, Emir and Egan, Louisa, Voters, Dictators, and Peons: Expressive Voting and Pivotality (May 1, 2010). Chicago Booth Research Paper No. 10-14, Available at SSRN: or

Emir Kamenica (Contact Author)

University of Chicago ( email )

1101 East 58th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Louisa Egan

Bryn Mawr College ( email )

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010
United States

Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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