New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2007‒01‒02
ten papers chosen by

  1. Cake Division by Majority Decision By Hans Gersbach; Bernhard Pachl
  2. Strategic approval voting in a large electorate By Jean-Francois Laslier
  4. When is Democracy an Equilibrium?: Theory and Evidence from Colombia's "La Violencia" By Mario Chacon; James A. Robinson; Ragnar Torvik
  5. Opportunist politicians and the evolution of<br />electoral competition By Jean-Francois Laslier; Bilge Ozturck
  6. On the Link Between Democracy and Environment By Drosdowski, Thomas
  7. Dictators, Repression and the Median Citizen: An “Eliminations Model” of Stalin’s Terror (Data from the NKVD Archives) By Gregory, Paul; Schrôder, Philipp; Sonin, Konstantin
  8. Social Choice and Just Institutions:<br />New Perspectives By Marc Fleurbaey
  9. Social choice and the indexing dilemma By Marc Fleurbaey
  10. Compensation and responsibility By Marc Fleurbaey; François Maniquet

  1. By: Hans Gersbach; Bernhard Pachl
    Abstract: We consider a collective choice process where three players make proposals sequentially on how to divide a given quantity of resources. Afterwards, one of the proposals is chosen by majority decision. If no proposal obtains a majority, a proposal is drawn by lot. We establish the existence of the set of subgame perfect equilibria, using a suitable refinement concept. In any equilibrium, the first agent offers the whole cake to the second proposal-maker, who in turn offers the whole cake back to the first agent. The third agent is then indifferent about dividing the cake between himself and the first or the second agent.
    Keywords: division of a cake, majority decisions, tie-breaking rules
    JEL: C72 D30 D39 D72
    Date: 2006
  2. By: Jean-Francois Laslier (PREG - Pole de recherche en économie et gestion - [CNRS : UMR7176] - [Polytechnique - X])
    Abstract: The paper considers approval voting for a large population of voters.<br />It is proven that, based on statistical information about candidate<br />scores, rational voters vote sincerly and according to a simple behavioral<br />rule. It is also proven that if a Condorcet-winner exists, this candidate<br />is elected.
    Keywords: Strategic Voting. Sincere voting. Approval voting. Condorcet.
    Date: 2006–12–21
  3. By: Jean-Francois Laslier (PREG - Pole de recherche en économie et gestion - [CNRS : UMR7176] - [Polytechnique - X]); Jörgen Weibull (PREG - Pole de recherche en économie et gestion - [CNRS : UMR7176] - [Polytechnique - X], SSE - Department of Economics - [Stockholm School of Economics])
    Abstract: According to Condorcet's jury theorem, informative voting<br />under majority rule leads to asymptotically efficient information aggregation:<br />As the jury size tends to infinity, the probability of a wrong decision goes to<br />zero. However, as is well-known by now, rational and privately informed voters<br />will condition their votes on being pivotal, and this may destroy their incentive<br />to vote informatively (according to their private information). We here restore<br />Condorcet's asymptotic efficiency result by way of modifying the aggregation<br />rule in such a way that (a) voters have an incentive to vote informatively and<br />(b) the collective decision is asymptotically efficient. The mechanism is an<br />ex-post randomization between majority rule applied to all votes and majority<br />rule applied to a randomly sampled subset of votes.
    Keywords: strategic voting, Condorcet, jury, information aggregation.
    Date: 2006–12–21
  4. By: Mario Chacon; James A. Robinson; Ragnar Torvik
    Abstract: The conventional wisdom in political science is that for a democracy to be consolidated, all groups must have a chance to attain power. If they do not then they will subvert democracy and choose to fight for power. In this paper we show that this wisdom is seriously incomplete because it considers absolute, not relative payoffs. Although the probability of winning an election increases with the size of a group, so does the probability of winning a fight. Thus in a situation where all groups have a high chance of winning an election, they may also have a high chance of winning a fight. Indeed, in a natural model, we show that democracy may never be consolidated in such a situation. Rather, democracy may only be stable when one group is dominant. We provide a test of a key aspect of our model using data from "La Violencia", a political conflict in Colombia during the years 1946-1950 between the Liberal and Conservative parties. Consistent with our results, and contrary to the conventional wisdom, we show that fighting between the parties was more intense in municipalities where the support of the parties was more evenly balanced.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2006–12
  5. By: Jean-Francois Laslier (PREG - Pole de recherche en économie et gestion - [CNRS : UMR7176] - [Polytechnique - X]); Bilge Ozturck (Department of Economics - [Galatasaray University])
    Abstract: We study a unidimensional model of spatial competition between two parties with two types of politicians. The office oriented politicians, referred to as “opportunist” politicians, care only about the spoils of the office. The policy oriented politicians, referred to as “militant” politicians have ideological preferences on the policy space. In this framework, we compare a winner-take-all system, where all the spoils go to the winner, to a proportional system, where the spoils of office are split among the two parties proportionally to their share of the vote.<br />We study the existence of short term political equilibria and then, within an evolutionary setup, the dynamics and stability of policies and of party membership decisions.
    Keywords: Political competition. Opportunism. Downs.
    Date: 2006–12–21
  6. By: Drosdowski, Thomas
    Abstract: Using a considerable number of theoretical and empirical sources, we analyze the relationship between democracy and environment. First, we compare the situation in democracies and non-democracies. Later, we discuss environmental distribution conflicts and the role of economic growth. In addition, we illuminate the way in which democratization influences environmental policies, concentrating on the role of economic inequality. Moreover, we discuss the impact of electoral rules and systems, as well as polluting lobbies. Finally, we consider political alternatives and sum up the main conclusions.
    Keywords: democracy, environmental policy, political economy
    JEL: D72 Q56 Q58
    Date: 2006–12
  7. By: Gregory, Paul; Schrôder, Philipp; Sonin, Konstantin
    Abstract: This paper sheds light on dictatorial behavior as exemplified by the mass terror campaigns of Stalin. Dictatorships - unlike democracies where politicians choose platforms in view of voter preferences - may attempt to trim their constituency and thus ensure regime survival via the large scale elimination of citizens. We formalize this idea in a simple model and use it to examine Stalin’s three large scale terror campaigns with data from the NKVD state archives that are accessible after more than 60 years of secrecy. Our model traces the stylized facts of Stalin’s terror and identifies parameters such as the ability to correctly identify regime enemies, the actual or perceived number of enemies in the population, and how secure the dictator's power base is, as crucial for the patterns and scale of repression.
    Keywords: Dictatorial systems; NKVD; OPGU; Soviet State and Party archives; Stalinism
    JEL: N44 P00 P26
    Date: 2006–12
  8. By: Marc Fleurbaey
    Abstract: It has become accepted that social choice is impossible in absence of interpersonal comparisons of well-being. This view is challenged here. Arrow obtained an impossibility theorem only by making unreasonable demands on social choice functions. With reasonable requirements, one can get very attractive possibilities and derive social preferences on the basis of non-comparable individual preferences. This new approach makes it possible to design optimal second-best institutions inspired by principles of fairness, while traditionally the analysis of optimal second-best institutions was thought to require interpersonal comparisons of well-being. In particular, this approach turns out to be especially suitable for the application of recent philosophical theories of justice formulated in terms of fairness, such as equality of resources.
    Keywords: social choice, theories of justice
    Date: 2006–12–20
  9. By: Marc Fleurbaey
    Abstract: This paper distinguishes an index ordering and a social ordering function as a simple way to formalize the indexing problem in the social choice framework. Two main conclusions are derived. First, the alleged dilemma between welfarism and perfectionnism is shown to involve a third possibility, exemplified by the fairness approach to social choice. Second, the idea that an individual is better off than another whenever he has more (goods, functionings...) in all dimensions, which is known to enter in conflict with the Pareto principle, can be partly salvaged by adopting the fairness approach.
    Keywords: social choice, indexing, Pareto, well-being
    Date: 2006–12–20
  10. By: Marc Fleurbaey; François Maniquet
    Abstract: This a chapter for the Handbook of Social Choice and Welfare. It deals with the theory of fairness applied to situations when individuals are partly responsible for their characteristics.
    Keywords: fairness, responsibility, equal opportunity, compensation, handicap, talent, effort
    Date: 2006–12–20

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