New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2005‒12‒09
six papers chosen by

  1. A simulative assessment of the Italian electoral system By Ortona, Guido; Ottone, Stefania; Ponzano, Ferruccio
  2. Income and Democracy By Acemoglu, Daron; Johnson, Simon; Robinson, James A; Yared, Pierre
  3. Efficiency, Equity and Timing in Voting Mechanisms By Battaglini, Marco; Morton, Rebecca; Palfrey, Thomas R
  4. Political Cycles : The Opposition Advantage By Pascal Gautier; Raphael Soubeyran
  5. How to Construct Alternatives. A computational voting model By Luigi Marengo; Corrado Pasquali
  6. The Effects of Campaign Finance Laws on Turnout, 1950-2000 By Jeffrey Milyo; David M. Primo

  1. By: Ortona, Guido; Ottone, Stefania; Ponzano, Ferruccio
    Date: 2005–12
  2. By: Acemoglu, Daron; Johnson, Simon; Robinson, James A; Yared, Pierre
    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 estimates 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.
    Keywords: democracy; economic growth; institutions; political development
    JEL: O10 P16
    Date: 2005–10
  3. By: Battaglini, Marco; Morton, Rebecca; Palfrey, Thomas R
    Abstract: We compare the behaviour of voters, depending on whether they operate under sequential and simultaneous voting rules, when voting is costly and information is incomplete. In many real political institutions, ranging from small committees to mass elections, voting is sequential, which allows some voters to know the choices of earlier voters. For a stylized model, we characterize the equilibria for this rule, and compare it to simultaneous voting, and show how these equilibria vary for different voting costs. This generates a variety of predictions about the relative efficiency and equity of these two systems, which we test using controlled laboratory experiments. Most of the qualitative predictions are supported by the data, but there are significant departures from the predicted equilibrium strategies, in both the sequential and simultaneous voting games. We find a tradeoff between information aggregation, efficiency, and equity in sequential voting: a sequential voting rule aggregates information better, and produces more efficient outcomes on average, compared to simultaneous voting, but sequential voting leads to significant inequities, with later voters benefiting at the expense of early voters.
    Keywords: committees; costly voting; information aggregation; sequential voting
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2005–10
  4. By: Pascal Gautier (GREQAM, Université d’Aix-Marseille II); Raphael Soubeyran (GREQAM, Université d’Aix-Marseille II)
    Abstract: We propose a two dimensional infinite horizon model of public consumption in which investments are decided by a winner-take-all election. Investments in the two public goods create a linkage across periods and parties have different specialities. We show that the incumbent party vote share decreases the longer it stays in power. Parties chances of winning do not converge and, when the median voter is moderate enough, no party can maintain itself in power for ever. Finally, the more parties are specialized and the more public policies have long-term effects, the more political cycles are likely to occur.
    Keywords: Cycles, Alternation, Public goods, Advantage, Opposition
    JEL: D72 H41 C72
    Date: 2005–10
  5. By: Luigi Marengo; Corrado Pasquali
    Abstract: Social choice models usually assume that choice is among pre-defined, uni-dimensional and "simple" objects. Very often, on the contrary, choice is among multi-featured and "complex" objects: a candidate in an election stands for an electoral programme which is a complex bundle of many interdependent political positions on a wide variety of issues. Also in committees and organizations of various sorts collective choices are most often made among policy "bundles" and authorities can act upon the pre-choice stage of construction of such bundles. This pre-choice power of alternatives construction may grant authorities a highly effective device to influence the outcome of social choice even when the latter is totally free and democratic. In this paper we propose a model which investigates within a simple majority vote framework the role of the object construction power, an analogous to the agenda power. Even when object construction is simply defined as the possibility of assembling and dis-assembling a fixed set of choice components into bundles, we show that, under rather general conditions, it can radically change the outcome of the majority voting process. In particular we show that any set of bundles (that we call "choice modules") is associated to a set of possible social outcomes which can be attained depending upon the initial conditions. Moreover we shows that also Condorcet-Arrow cycles can appear or disappear depending upon which set of modules is chosen.
    Date: 2005–11–24
  6. By: Jeffrey Milyo (Department of Economics, University of Missouri-Columbia); David M. Primo
    Abstract: Scholars have proposed many routes by which campaign finance laws may impact turnout. For instance, laws restricting campaign spending may decrease mobilization, resulting in lower turnout. Alternatively, such laws might increase the competitiveness of elections, resulting in higher turnout. Existing studies tend to focus on only one causal pathway, ignoring the net effects of campaign finance reforms on voter turnout. We exploit the variation in state campaign finance laws from 1950 to 2000 in order to estimate the reduced-form relationships between reform and turnout. Using both aggregate and individual-level data, we find that campaign finance laws on net have little impact on turnout in gubernatorial elections. There are two exceptions to this finding: Limits on organizational contributions are shown in an individual level analysis to increase turnout prior to a sea change in campaign finance ushered in by the Buckley v. Valeo decision in 1976, while public financing laws are shown to have an equally large negative impact on turnout in the post-Buckley era. These results strengthens the existing literature, which finds similarly perverse effects of public financing on the “quality of democracy,” and demonstrates the advantages of reduced-form analysis for understanding the influence of laws on behavior.
    Keywords: voting, campaign finance
    JEL: D72 H79 K39
    Date: 2005–11–28

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