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An experiment on the vote-buy gap with application to cage-free eggs

Andrew S. Paul, Jayson Lusk (), F. Bailey Norwood and Glynn Tonsor ()

Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), 2019, vol. 79, issue C, 102-109

Abstract: Why would people vote to ban a product they regularly consume? This question is at the crux of the controversies over a variety of ballot initiatives restricting certain agricultural production practices. This research moves the question to a controlled laboratory setting with real food and real money to explore the underlying causes of the so-called vote-buy gap. Respondents first made a shopping choice between snack options, some of which included eggs from caged hens as an ingredient. After selecting a snack, participants then voted on a proposition to ban snack options that utilized eggs from caged hens. We show that the vote-buy gap can be replicated in the lab: in the control condition, approximately 80% of the individuals who chose snacks with caged eggs when shopping subsequently voted to ban snacks with caged eggs. The finding rules out the suggestion that the vote-buy gap is an illusion or statistical artifact, as it can be re-created in an experimental lab setting at an individual level. A number of experimental treatments were conducted to test hypotheses related to the underlying causes of the vote-buy gap. We found qualified support for the hypothesis that the vote-buy gap is a result of information asymmetries, but little evidence that it results from public good or expressive voting phenomena.

Keywords: Animal welfare; Experiment; Consumer behavior; Public choice; Vote-buy gap (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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