New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2007‒03‒10
thirteen papers chosen by

  1. Do Voters Vote Sincerely? By Degan, Arianna; Merlo, Antonio
  2. Political Rents in a Non-Corrupt Democracy By Svaleryd, Helena; Vlachos, Jonas
  3. Mediocracy By Mattozzi, Andrea; Merlo, Antonio
  4. On the Justice of Voting Systems By Jose Apesteguia; Miguel A. Ballester; Rosa Ferrer
  5. Political Careers or Career Politicians? By Mattozzi, Andrea; Merlo, Antonio
  6. Towards a Behavioral Public Choice: Guilt-Aversion and Accountability in the Lab. By Luca Corazzini, Sebastian Kube, Michel André Maréchal
  7. The Parking Lot Problem By Maria Arbatskaya; Kaushik Mukhopadhaya; Eric Rasmusen
  8. Politics, Collective Framing, and Scandal: U.S. Scandal Management from 'Checkers' to Halliburton By Weeber, S.; Turner, B.
  9. Supermodular Bayesian implementation: Learning and incentive design By Mathevet, Laurent
  10. The Relation between Democracy and Religion: Towards a European Discursive Model? By Camil Ungureanu
  11. Does Privatising Public Service Provision Reduce Accountability? By Matthew Ellman
  12. Sustaining cooperation in trust games By Rigdon, Mary; McCabe, Kevin; Smith, Vernon
  13. Getting Carried Away in Auctions as Imperfect Value Discovery By Eric Rasmusen

  1. By: Degan, Arianna; Merlo, Antonio
    Abstract: In this paper we address the following question: To what extent is the hypothesis that voters vote sincerely testable or falsifiable? We show that using data only on how individuals vote in a single election, the hypothesis that voters vote sincerely is irrefutable, regardless of the number of candidates competing in the election. On the other hand, using data on how the same individuals vote in multiple elections, the hypothesis that voters vote sincerely is potentially falsifiable, and we provide general conditions under which the hypothesis can be tested. We then consider an application of our theoretical framework and assess whether the behaviour of voters is consistent with sincere voting in U.S. national elections in the post-war period. We find that by and large sincere voting can explain virtually all of the individual-level observations on voting behaviour in presidential and congressional U.S. elections in the data.
    Keywords: falsifiability; spatial models; testing; voting
    JEL: C12 C63 D72
    Date: 2007–03
  2. By: Svaleryd, Helena (Research Institute of Industrial Economics); Vlachos, Jonas (Stockholm University)
    Abstract: A fundamental problem in all political systems is that the people in power may extract rents to the detriment of the general public. In a democracy, electoral competition and information provided by the media may keep such rent extraction at bay. We develop a simple model where rents are decreasing in the degree of political competition and voter information. In line with our theoretical predictions, we find that both increased political competition and increased local media coverage reduce direct measures of (legal) political rents among local governments in a non-corrupt democracy (Sweden). Our findings also indicate that the two dimensions of accountability are substitutes rather than complements.
    Keywords: Accountability; Political Competition; Media; Political Rents
    JEL: D72 H10 H70
    Date: 2007–02–16
  3. By: Mattozzi, Andrea; Merlo, Antonio
    Abstract: In this paper, we study the initial recruitment of individuals in the political sector. We propose an equilibrium model of political recruitment by a party who faces competition for political talent from the lobbying sector. We show that a political party may deliberately choose to recruit only mediocre politicians, in spite of the fact that it could afford to recruit better individuals who would like to become politicians. We argue that this finding may contribute to explain the observation that in many countries the political class is mostly composed of mediocre people.
    Keywords: parties; political recruitment; politicians
    JEL: D72 J44 J45
    Date: 2007–03
  4. By: Jose Apesteguia; Miguel A. Ballester; Rosa Ferrer
    Abstract: What are the best voting systems in terms of utilitarianism? Or in terms of maximin, or maximax? We study these questions for the case of three alternatives and a class of structurally equivalent voting rules. We show that plurality, arguably the most widely used voting system, performs very poorly in terms of remarkable ideals of justice, such as utilitarianism or maximin, and yet is optimal in terms of maximax. Utilitarianism is best approached by a voting system converging to the Borda count, while the best way to achieve maximin is by means of a voting system converging to negative voting. We study the robustness of our results across different social cultures, measures of performance, and population sizes.
    Keywords: Voting, Scoring Rules, Utilitarianism, Maximin, Maximax, Impartial Culture Condition
    JEL: D00 D63 D71 D72
    Date: 2006–11
  5. By: Mattozzi, Andrea; Merlo, Antonio
    Abstract: Two main career paths are prevalent among politicians in modern democracies: there are career politicians (i.e., politicians who work in the political sector until retirement), and political careers (i.e., there are politicians who leave politics before retirement and work in the private sector). In this paper, we propose a dynamic equilibrium model of the careers of politicians in an environment with a private sector and a political sector, where individuals are heterogeneous with respect to their market ability and political skills. Our analysis provides an explanation for the existence of career politicians and individuals with political careers, and their motivations. We also investigate the effects of monetary incentives and other features of the political-economic environment on the quality of politicians and their careers. We show that an increase in the salary a politician receives while in office decreases the average quality of individuals who become politicians, decreases turnover in office, and may either decrease or increase the average quality of career politicians.
    Keywords: career politicians; political careers
    JEL: D72 J44 J45
    Date: 2007–03
  6. By: Luca Corazzini, Sebastian Kube, Michel André Maréchal (ISLA, Universita' Bocconi, Milano)
    Abstract: Mimicking standard features of electoral accountability and selection models, we conduct a computerized laboratory experiment in order to identify the influence of other-regarding preferences on democratic outcomes. We find that elected candidates are more pro-social towards their constituency the more favorable approval rates are. In contrast, this systematic positive relationship is not observed if the appointment is unintentionally determined by computer. These results suggest that a substantial fraction of candidates is motivated by guilt aversion. We discuss the implications of these findings for the design of democratic institutions.
    Keywords: guilt aversion, social preferences, accountability, constitutional design, public choice, experiment.
    JEL: A13 H1 D72 C92
    Date: 2007–03
  7. By: Maria Arbatskaya (Emory university); Kaushik Mukhopadhaya; Eric Rasmusen (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)
    Abstract: If there is competition for access to an underpriced good such as a free parking spot, the competition can eat up the entire surplus, eliminating the social value of the good. There is a discontinuity in social welfare between “enough” and “not enough,” with the minimum social welfare being at slightly too small a parking lot because of the rentseeking efforts of drivers. Uncertainty over the number of drivers actually increases social welfare if the parking lot size is set too small; if it is set optimally, the parking lot size will be well in excess of mean demand.
    Keywords: rent-seeking, all-pay auction, timing, capacity size, queue
    JEL: L91 R4 D72
    Date: 2007
  8. By: Weeber, S.; Turner, B.
    Abstract: American politics is scandal-laden, and such interruptions of the normal flow of politics are costly both in dollars and in the subsequent erosion of faith in political institutions. However, not all situations that could become scandals erupt into major scandal - suggesting that some scandals are managed in such a way that scandal claims makers do not win the day. Thus, an important question to ask is this: how and why do some scandals become major political events while others basically “blow over” into obscurity and become only minor footnotes to American history? A second important question is: how can candidates or officeholders better regulate themselves so as to avoid major scandals? In this paper we apply a sociological perspective in an effort to answer these questions. The answers are important for developing and testing theoretical models of political scandals, and could also assist a “public sociology” that could help to avoid future scandals.
    Keywords: U.S. politics; scandals; sociology; etiology of scandal; scandal management and prevention.
    JEL: Z13 Z1
    Date: 2006–04–12
  9. By: Mathevet, Laurent
    Date: 2007–03
  10. By: Camil Ungureanu
    Abstract: In this paper we advance the argument that, under certain socio-political and cognitive conditions, the manifestation of religion in the opinion-oriented public spheres can have an inherent value for democratic life. However, it is only after processes of selective interpretation and transformation through inclusive discursive practices that religious semantic contents may legitimately influence decisional interpretations of constitutional principles and rights. This model draws on republicanism and deliberative democracy: given that these two conceptions do not start out from an abstract principle of liberty as non-interference but from a multidimensional conception of freedom embedded in various historical contexts of mutual recognition, they are more predisposed to provide conceptual resources for envisaging a discursive relation between democracy and religion.
    Keywords: democracy; fundamental/human rights
    Date: 2006–12–01
  11. By: Matthew Ellman
    Abstract: This paper studies how privatising service provision (shifting control rights and contractual obligations to providers) affects accountability. There are two main effects. (1) Privatisation demotivates governments from investigating and responding to public demands, since providers then hold up service adaptations. (2) Privatisation demotivates the public from mobilising to pressure for service adaptations, since providers then indirectly holdup the public by inflating the government’s cost of implementing these adaptations. So, when choosing governance mode, politicians may be biased towards privatising as a way to escape public attention; relatedly, privatising utilities may reduce public pressure and increase consumer prices.
    Keywords: Public Services; Privatisation; Voter Mobilisation; Accountability; Government Responsiveness; Contract Length; Incomplete Contracts; Holdup
    JEL: D23
    Date: 2006–10
  12. By: Rigdon, Mary; McCabe, Kevin; Smith, Vernon
    Abstract: It is well-known in evolutionary game theory that population clustering in Prisoner's Dilemma games allows some cooperative strategies to invade populations of stable defecting strategies. We adapt this idea of population clustering to a two-person trust game. Without knowing it, players are typed based on their recent track record as to whether or not they are trusting (Players 1) and whether or not they are trustworthy (Players 2). They are then paired according to those types: trustors with trustworthy types, and similarly non-trustors with untrustworthy types. In the control comparisons, Players 1 are randomly repaired with Players 2 without regard to type. We ask: are there natural tendencies for people to cooperate more frequently in environments in which they experience more cooperation in comparison with controls?
    Keywords: exchange; trust; reciprocity; cooperation; clustering; bargaining; experimental economics
    JEL: D02 D0
    Date: 2001–08
  13. By: Eric Rasmusen (Department of Business Economics and Public Policy, Indiana University Kelley School of Business)
    Abstract: Bidders in auctions must decide whether and when to incur the cost of estimating the most they are willing to pay. This can explain why people seem to get carried away, bidding higher than they had planned before the auction and then finding they had paid more than the object was worth to them. Even when such behavior is rational, ex ante, it may be perceived as irrational if one ignores other situations in which people revise their bid ceilings upwards and are happy when that enables them to win the auction.
    Date: 2007

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