Retired BU Economics Professor writes book about voter motivations


A retired Binghamton University Economics Professor is out with a new book that looks at why voters vote the way they do and what the unintended results are.

Phillip Nelson of Owego has written “Good Intentions-Bad Consequences, Voters’ Information Problems.”

Nelson says that while consumers often make decisions largely on self-interest, voters often include their own notion of altruism as well as some adherence to tradition.

He says that people on both ends of the political spectrum are often influenced by confirmation bias, in which they only want to hear what is consistent with their established views.

Nelson says well-meaning public policy can have side effects that aren’t considered.

“The drive for equality tends to reduce national income, in a way.  There’s a kind of tradeoff between more equality and more GDP.  And this tradeoff is sort of ignored,” said Nelson.

Nelson says his research shows that Democrats are more likely to base their votes on their version of altruism, while Republicans are more associated with voting out of perceived self-interest.

Nelson attributes his interest in this field to his mentor, Nobel Prize-winning economist George Stiegler.

This is Nelson’s second book.

It is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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