New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2006‒01‒29
four papers chosen by

  1. The Evolution of Public Spending on Higher Education in a Democracy By Alexander Haupt
  2. The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory By Battaglini, Marco; Morton, Rebecca; Palfrey, Thomas R
  3. Learning, voting and the information trap By Aleksander Berentsen; Esther Bruegger; Simon Loertscher
  4. Political Involvement and Memory Failure as Interdependent Determinants of Vote Overreporting By Stocké, Volker; Stark, Tobias

  1. By: Alexander Haupt
    Abstract: This paper analyses political forces that cause an initial expansion of public spending on higher education and an ensuing decline in subsidies. Growing public expenditures increase the future size of the higher income class and thus boost future demand for education. This demand shift implies that the initial subsidy per student becomes too expensive to be politically sustainable. Despite a voters’ backlash that curbs education subsidies, overall enrolments continue to rise. But the participation rate of the children of lower income families, that went up in the expansion period, declines over time, both in absolute terms and relative to the rate of their counterparts from higher income households.
    Keywords: higher education, voting, social stratification, social mobility, overlapping generations
    JEL: D72 H52 I22 I28 O15
    Date: 2005
  2. By: Battaglini, Marco; Morton, Rebecca; Palfrey, Thomas R
    Abstract: This paper reports the first laboratory study of the swing voter’s curse and provides insights on the larger theoretical and empirical literature on 'pivotal voter' models. Our experiment controls for different information levels of voters, as well as the size of the electorate, the distribution of preferences, and other theoretically relevant parameters. The design varies the share of partisan voters and the prior belief about a payoff relevant state of the world. Our results support the equilibrium predictions of the Feddersen-Pesendorfer model, and clearly reject the notion that voters in the laboratory use naïve decision-theoretic strategies. The voters act as if they are aware of the swing voter’s curse and adjust their behaviour to compensate. While the compensation is not complete and there is some heterogeneity in individual behaviour, we find that aggregate outcomes, such as efficiency, turnout, and margin of victory, closely track the theoretical predictions.
    Keywords: information aggregation; swing voter's curse; voting behaviour
    JEL: D71 D72
    Date: 2006–01
  3. By: Aleksander Berentsen; Esther Bruegger; Simon Loertscher
    Abstract: We consider a median voter model with uncertainty about how the economy functions. The distribution of income is exogenously given and the provision of a public good is financed through a proportional tax. Voters and politicians do not know the true production function for the public good, but by using Bayes rule they can learn from experience. We show that the economy may converge to an inefficient policy where no further inference is possible so that the economy is stuck in an information trap.
    Keywords: Learning; voting and the information trap
    JEL: D72 H10 D83
    Date: 2005–04
  4. By: Stocké, Volker (Sonderforschungsbereich 504); Stark, Tobias (Sonderforschungsbereich 504)
    Abstract: Survey respondents have been found to systematically overreport their participation in political elections. Although the sociodemographic correlates of this response bias are well known, only a few studies have analyzed the determinants predicted by two prominent theoretical explanations for vote overreporting: memory failure and social desirability bias. Both explanations have received empirical support in studies in which the probability of vote overreporting was found to increase (a) with the time between the election and the survey interview and (b) when respondents were more politically involved. In the present paper, we argue that the effect of each of these determinants is not simply additive, but depends on the value of the respective other factor. This interaction effect has been found with data from the American National Election Studies: The probability of vote overreporting increases significantly stronger with the respondents’ political involvement when more time has elapsed since the election day.
    Date: 2006–01–04

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