John Quiggin

Professor of economics, University of Queensland

John Quiggin is professor of economics at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. He is the author of Zombie Economics (2010), and his latest book is Economics in Two Lessons: Why Markets Work So Well, and Why They Can Fail So Badly (forthcoming, 2019).

Written by John Quiggin

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Given how little effect you can have, is it rational to vote?

John Quiggin

As long as you care about the rest of society, it’s entirely rational to vote. Suppose you think (as I do) that Americans collectively would be much better off if Clinton had beaten Trump. In dollar terms, let’s say the benefit was more than $100 billion (about 2 per cent of US national income). If your chance of casting a decisive vote is 1 in 100 million (it’s actually higher, but this gets complicated), then the expected benefit from voting correctly is $1000. Your share of that is tiny, of course, but that’s true of lots of things (eg picking up litter).

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