Participation and Punishment

2016

Studies have demonstrated that altruistic punishment can motivate pro-social behavior in settings that require group cooperation. This paper extends these findings to the voter participation game. Using a laboratory experiment we find that some subjects are willing to punish abstainers and that punishment increases participation. However, not all subjects respond to punishment equally. We find that punishment increases turnout more among subjects with a egoist social value orientation (SVO) than among subjects with a pro-social SVO. This suggests that increased opportunities for altruistic punishment do not just increase participation, but may also change the composition of the electorate.