New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2005‒01‒02
five papers chosen by

  1. Utilitarian Collective Choice and Voting By Hillinger, Claude
  2. Why So Much Centralization? A Model of Primitive Centripetal Accumulation By Jean-Paul Faguet
  3. Do Citizens Vote Sincerely (If They Vote at All)? Theory and Evidence from U. S. National Elections By Arianna Degan; Antonio Merlo
  4. A Dynamic Model of Voting By Arianna Degan
  5. An new framework for describing the decision behaviour of large groups By Springael J.; De Smet Y.; Kunsch P.

  1. By: Hillinger, Claude
    Abstract: In his seminal Social Choice and Individual Values, Kenneth Arrow stated that his theory applies to voting. Many voting theorists have been convinced that, on account of Arrow?s theorem, all voting methods must be seriously flawed. Arrow?s theory is strictly ordinal, the cardinal aggregation of preferences being explicitly rejected. In this paper I point out that all voting methods are cardinal and therefore outside the reach of Arrow?s result. Parallel to Arrow?s ordinal approach, there evolved a consistent cardinal theory of collective choice. This theory, most prominently associated with the work of Harsanyi, continued the older utilitarian tradition in a more formal style. The purpose of this paper is to show that various derivations of utilitarian SWFs can also be used to derive utilitarian voting (UV). By this I mean a voting rule that allows the voter to score each alternative in accordance with a given scale. UV-k indicates a scale with k distinct values. The general theory leaves k to be determined on pragmatic grounds. A (1,0) scale gives approval voting. I prefer the scale (1,0,-1) and refer to the resulting voting rule as evaluative voting. A conclusion of the paper is that the defects of conventional voting methods result not from Arrow?s theorem, but rather from restrictions imposed on voters? expression of their preferences. The analysis is extended to strategic voting, utilizing a novel set of assumptions regarding voter behavior.
    JEL: D72 D71
    Date: 2004–12
  2. By: Jean-Paul Faguet
    Abstract: With strong conceptual arguments in its favor, decentralization is a popular and growing policy trend across the world. And yet dozens of empirical studies have failed to find convincing evidence that past reforms have worked. This begs two questions: 1)Why does decentralization produce indifferent results? and 2) Why is there so much centralization in the first place? The paper develops a simple model of a legislature in which municipal representatives bargain with central government agents over the allocation of public resources. By locating central government in a particular geographic space ¿ the ¿capital¿ ¿ and invoking self-interest on the part of its residents, I can answer both questions. I introduce the concept of residual power, which underpins the model and determines the flow of resources to districts. There is so much centralization because residual power is located in the capital, whose residents directly benefit from weak local governments.
    Keywords: Centralization, decentralization, local public goods, local government, municipal government, legislative bargaining, capture.
    Date: 2004–06
  3. By: Arianna Degan (Department of Economics, University of Quebec at Montreal); Antonio Merlo (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: Understanding citizens’ electoral behavior (e.g., selective abstention and split ticket voting), represents a fundamental step in the analysis of democratic institutions. In this paper, we assess the extent to which sincere voting can explain observed patterns of participation and voting in U.S. national elections. We propose a unified model of turnout and voting in presidential and congressional elections with heterogeneous voters. We estimate the model using individual level data for eight presidential election years (1972-2000). Our main findings can be summarized as follows. First, a non-negligible fraction of the American electorate does not vote sincerely, and only a relatively small fraction of observed split-ticket voting can be explained by sincere voting. Second, there is a systematic, positive relationship between information and turnout. Third, the American electorate has become relatively more polarized over time.
    Keywords: Elections, turnout, selective abstention, split-ticket voting
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2004–03–15
  4. By: Arianna Degan (Department of Economics, University of Quebec at Montreal)
    Abstract: We propose and estimate a dynamic model of voting with asymmetric information incorporating the three main factors affecting voting choices of individual citizens: party identification, policy preferences, and candidates’ valence. Using individual level data on voting decisions in two consecutive presidential elections, we identify and estimate (1) the distribution of voters’ policy positions and (2) candidates’ valence. In addition to providing an equilibrium interpretation of the observed voting profiles and electoral outcomes, we use the estimated model to conduct counterfactual experiments to assess the relative importance of candidates’ policy positions, valence, and voters’ information on the outcomes of elections and to evaluate the performance of the electoral process.
    Keywords: Party identification, policy preferences, consecutive elections, valence
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2003–11–23
  5. By: Springael J.; De Smet Y.; Kunsch P.
    Abstract: Many occurrences in real-life result from decisions taken by a very large number of decision makers. Furthermore, these decisions often depend on the optimisation of several conflicting criteria. The decision or behaviour of every microscopic entity results finally in a global macroscopic behaviour of the whole group of decision makers. In such context, the use of classical decision support tools, such as multicriteria based group decision support systems, to model these macroscopic phenomena is not appropriate. In order to tackle this type of problems, we introduce a tool based on Markov chains to model and manage these large group decisions. Finally, the method results in a statistical distribution of decisions, allowing us to study the impact of policy measures on the global group behaviour. This is illustrated by means of a simple example stemming from the telecommunication sector.
    Date: 2004–06

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