Public choice economists have developed a model to explain why people vote. The model is called the calculus of voting, and can be written as such:

R = p(B) − C + D

where

R = the reward gained from voting in a given election (R, then, is a proxy for the probability that the voter will turn out)

p = probability of vote being instrumental

B = “utility” benefit of voting--differential benefit of one candidate winning over the other

C = costs of voting (time/effort spent)

D = citizen duty, goodwill feeling, psychological and civic benefit of voting

Costs are always present, and the probability of the vote being instrumental is so small that public choice claims decisions to vote are largely a component of civic pride. Waking up today, I realized that my own calculus of voting was slightly more complicated:

R = pB − C + D + S + K + I - E

where

R = the reward gained from voting in a given election (R, then, is a proxy for the probability that the voter will turn out)

p = probability of vote “mattering”

B = “utility” benefit of voting--differential benefit of one candidate winning over the other

C = costs of voting (time/effort spent)

D = citizen duty, goodwill feeling, psychological and civic benefit of voting

S = Free Starbucks coffee

K = Free Krispy Kreme Doughnut

I = Free Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream

E = Distain from other Econ undergrads when I tell them I voted.

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## 1 comment:

I'm glad you voted.

P.S., you may be interested to see "Cal loves Obama" on you-tube. "S" and "I" also factored into the calculus of voting in Berkeley. However, I think the clip is much more a product of B and D... pretty surprising from a town that rarely considers itself "Proud to Be an American."

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