Should We Overlook All Altruistic Behavior by Politicians?


Not all policies benefit their intended targets even though they are motivated by political altruism. This paper analyzes how the frequency of altruistic behavior changes depending on whether consumers (i.e., the electorate) or producers (i.e., politicians) bear the responsibility. It compares the strict liability rule, which means the altruist must bear all damages, with the no liability rule, which means the recipient must bear all damages. It finds that under the no liability rule, if politicians are altruist, the frequency of altruistic behavior is less than under the strict liability rule. Therefore, the paper shows that if politicians were altruists, they would prefer the strict liability rule.

Share and Cite:

S. Sekiguchi, "Should We Overlook All Altruistic Behavior by Politicians?," Theoretical Economics Letters, Vol. 3 No. 3, 2013, pp. 146-151. doi: 10.4236/tel.2013.33023.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] G. S. Becker, “A Theory of Social Interactions,” Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 82, No. 6, 1974, pp. 1063-1093. doi:10.1086/260265
[2] J. M. Buchanan, “In Defense of Caveat Emptor,” University of Chicago Law Review, Vol. 38, No. 1, 1970, pp. 64-73. doi:10.2307/1598958
[3] J. M. Buchanan, “Altruism, Morality, and Economic Theory,” Russell Sage Foundation, New York, 1975.
[4] S. Harnay and A. Marciano, “Should I Help My Neighbor? Self-Interest, Altruism and Economic Analyses of Rescue Laws,” European Journal of Law and Economics, Vol. 28, No. 2, 2009, pp. 103-131. doi:10.1007/s10657-009-9095-9
[5] J. M. Buchanan, “Essays on the Political Economy,” University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 1989.
[6] J. P. Brown, “Toward an Economic Theory of Liability,” Journal of Legal Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2, 1973, p. 323. doi:10.1086/467501
[7] K. Hamada, “Liability Rules and Income Distribution in Product Liability,” American Economic Review, Vol. 66, No. 1, 1976. pp. 228-234.
[8] K. Tanaka, “The Coase Theorem in Product Liability: Buchanan’s Case,” Sophia Economic Review, Vol. 45, No. 1-2, 2003, pp. 149-152.
[9] M. C. W. Janssen and E. Mendys-Kamphorst, “The Price of a Price: On the Crowding out and in of Social Norms,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Vol. 55, No. 3, 2004. pp. 377-395. doi:10.1016/j.jebo.2002.11.004

Copyright © 2022 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.