New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2005‒04‒03
three papers chosen by

  1. On Committees of Experts By Bauke Visser; Otto H. Swank
  2. From Education to Democracy? By Daron Acemoglu; Simon Johnson; James A. Robinson; Pierre Yared
  3. Income and Democracy By Daron Acemoglu; Simon Johnson; James Robinson; Pierre Yared

  1. By: Bauke Visser (Faculty of Economics, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam); Otto H. Swank (Faculty of Economics, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam)
    Abstract: We consider a committee that makes a decision on a project on behalf of 'the public'. Members of the committee agree on the a priori value of the project, and hold additional private information about its consequences. They are experts who care both about the value of the project and about being considered well informed. Before voting on the project, members can exchange their private information simultaneously (so no herding). We show that reputational concerns make the a priori unconventional decision more attractive and lead committees to show a united front. These results hold irrespective of whether information can be manipulated or not. Next, we show that reputational concerns induce members to manipulate information and vote strategically if their preferences differ considerably from those of the member casting the decisive vote. Our last result is that the optimal voting rule balances the quality of information exchange and the alignment of interests of the decisive voter with those of the public.
    Keywords: Committees; communication; reputational concerns; strategic voting
    JEL: D71 D72 D82
    Date: 2005–03–10
  2. By: Daron Acemoglu; Simon Johnson; James A. Robinson; Pierre Yared
    Abstract: The conventional wisdom views high levels of education as a prerequisite for democracy. This paper shows that existing evidence for this view is based on cross-sectional correlations, which disappear once we look at within-country variation. In other words, there is no evidence that countries that increase their education are more likely to become democratic.
    JEL: O10
    Date: 2005–03
  3. By: Daron Acemoglu; Simon Johnson; James Robinson; Pierre Yared
    Abstract: We revisit one of the central empirical findings of the political economy literature that higher income per capita causes democracy. Existing studies establish a strong cross-country correlation between income and democracy, but do not typically control for factors that simultaneously affect both variables. We show that controlling for such factors by including country fixed effects removes the statistical association between income per capita and various measures of democracy. We also present instrumental-variables using two different strategies. These estimates also show no causal effect of income on democracy. Furthermore, we reconcile the positive cross-country correlation between income and democracy with the absence of a causal effect of income on democracy by showing that the long-run evolution of income and democracy is related to historical factors. Consistent with this, the positive correlation between income and democracy disappears, even without fixed effects, when we control for the historical determinants of economic and political development in a sample of former European colonies.
    JEL: P16 O10
    Date: 2005–03

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