New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2008‒05‒31
nine papers chosen by

  1. The Premises of Condorcet's Jury Theorem Are Not Simultaneously Justified By Dietrich Franz
  2. The Premiss-Based Approach to Judgment Aggregation By Dietrich Franz; Mongin Philippe
  3. Corruption and Power in Democracies By Francesco Giovannoni; Daniel J. Seidmann
  4. QRE, NSNX and the Paradox of Voting By Howard Margolis
  5. The Fiscal Consequences of Electoral Institutions By Christopher R. Berry; Jacob E. Gersen
  6. From individual attitudes towards migrants to migration policy outcomes: Theory and evidence By Facchini, Giovanni; Mayda, Anna Maria
  7. The Devil's Calculus: Mathematical Models of Civil War By Shenoy, Ajay
  8. The behaviour of the MPC: Gradualism, inaction and individual voting patterns By Groth, Charlotta; Wheeler, Tracy
  9. Governance and Parliamentary Accountability By Muiris MacCarthaigh

  1. By: Dietrich Franz (METEOR)
    Abstract: Condorcet''s famous jury theorem reaches an optimistic conclusion on the correctness of majority decisions, based on two controversial premises about voters: they are competent and vote independently, in a technical sense. I carefully analyse these premises and show that: (i) whether a premise is justified depends on the notion of probability considered; (ii) none of the notions renders both premises simultaneously justified. Under the perhaps most interesting notions, the independence assumption should be weakened.
    Keywords: mathematical economics;
    Date: 2008
  2. By: Dietrich Franz; Mongin Philippe (METEOR)
    Abstract: We investigate judgment aggregation by assuming that some formulas of the agenda are singled out as premises, and the Independence condition (formula-wise aggregation) holds for them, though perhaps not for others. Whether premise-based aggregation thus defined is non-degenerate depends on how premises are logically connected, both among themselves and with other formulas. We identify necessary and sufficient conditions for dictatorship or oligarchy on the premisses, and investigate when these results extend to the whole agenda. Our theorems recover or strengthen several existing ones and are formulated for infinite populations, an innovation of this paper.
    Keywords: mathematical economics;
    Date: 2008
  3. By: Francesco Giovannoni; Daniel J. Seidmann
    Abstract: According to Acton: “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. We study the implications of Acton’s dictum in models where citizens vote (for three parties) and governments then form in a series of elections. In each election, parties have fixed tastes for graft, which affect negotiations to form a government if parliament hangs; but incumbency changes tastes across elections. We argue that combinations of Acton’s dictum with various assumptions about citizen sophistication and inter-party commitments generate tight and testable predictions which cover plausible dynamics of government formation in an otherwise stationary environment.
    Keywords: Corruption, government dynamics
    JEL: H11 D72
    Date: 2008–02
  4. By: Howard Margolis
    Abstract: Levine & Palfrey's (2007) QRE account of turnout in large elections raises the broader question of how much of a departure from standard rational choice theory is justified by the considerable repertoire of rational choice anomalies that has accumulated since Downs and Olson half a century ago. An alternative but more controversial unconventional view turns on what I call NSNX motivation to account for how agents seek a balance between self-interest and social motivation. NSNX agents have irreducibly dual utility functions. QRE agents have a standard utility function but they do not maximize it. I review the situation showing why in situations where NSNX effects could be expected, QRE might mirror those effects. I show how by varying parameters of an experiment we can cleanly distinguish between actual QRE effects which should bring predictions closer to the data than Nash and NSNX effects which should do the same.
    Keywords: rational choice, NSNX
    Date: 2007–12
  5. By: Christopher R. Berry; Jacob E. Gersen
    Abstract: There are more than 500,000 elected officials in the United States, 96 percent of whom serve in local governments. Electoral density—the number of elected officials per capita or per governmental unit—varies greatly from place to place. The most electorally dense county has more than 20 times the average number of elected officials per capita. In this paper, we offer the first systematic investigation of the link between electoral density and fiscal policy. Drawing on principal-agent theories of representation, we argue that electoral density presents a tradeoff between accountability and monitoring costs. Increasing the number of specialized elected offices promotes issue unbundling, reducing slack between citizen preferences and government policy; but the costs of monitoring a larger number of officials may offset these benefits, producing greater latitude for politicians to pursue their own goals at the expense of citizen interests. Thus, we predict diminishing returns to electoral density, suggesting a U-shaped relationship between the number of local officials and government fidelity to citizen preferences. Using a county-level dataset of all elected officials in the United States, we evaluate this theory along with competing theories from the existing literature. Empirically, we find evidence that public sector size decreases with electoral density up to a point, beyond which budgets grow as more officials are added within a community.
    Keywords: local government, elected officials, efficiency, funding
    Date: 2007–05
  6. By: Facchini, Giovanni; Mayda, Anna Maria
    Abstract: In democratic societies individual attitudes of voters represent the foundations of policy making. We start by analyzing patterns in public opinion on migration and find that, across countries of different income levels, only a small minority of voters favour more open migration policies. Next we investigate the determinants of voters' preferences towards immigration from a theoretical and empirical point of view. Our analysis supports the role played by economic channels (labour market, welfare state, efficiency gains) using both the 1995 and 2003 rounds of the ISSP survey. The second part of the paper examines how attitudes translate into a migration policy outcome. We consider two alternative political-economy frameworks: the median voter and the interest groups model. On the one hand, the restrictive policies in place across destination countries and the very low fractions of voters favouring immigration are consistent with the median voter framework. At the same time, given the extent of individual-level opposition to immigration that appears in the data, it is somewhat puzzling, in a median-voter perspective, that migration flows take place at all. Interest-groups dynamics have the potential to explain this puzzle. We find evidence from regression analysis supporting both political-economy frameworks.
    Keywords: Immigration; Immigration Policy; Interest Groups; Median Voter; Political Economy
    JEL: F22 J61
    Date: 2008–05
  7. By: Shenoy, Ajay
    Abstract: In spite of the movement to turn political science into a real science, various mathematical methods that are now the staples of physics, biology, and even economics are thoroughly uncommon in political science, especially the study of civil war. This study seeks to apply such methods - specifically, ordinary differential equations (ODEs) - to model civil war based on what one might dub the capabilities school of thought, which roughly states that civil wars end only when one side’s ability to make war falls far enough to make peace truly attractive. I construct several different ODE-based models and then test them all to see which best predicts the instantaneous capabilities of both sides of the Sri Lankan civil war in the period from 1990 to 1994 given parameters and initial conditions. The model that the tests declare most accurate gives very accurate predictions of state military capabilities and reasonable short term predictions of cumulative deaths. Analysis of the model reveals the scale of the importance of rebel finances to the sustainability of insurgency, most notably that the number of troops required to put down the Tamil Tigers is reduced by nearly a full order of magnitude when Tiger foreign funding is stopped. The study thus demonstrates that accurate foresight may come of relatively simple dynamical models, and implies the great potential of advanced and currently unconventional non-statistical mathematical methods in political science.
    Keywords: civil war; mathematical model; differential equations; dynamic model
    JEL: N45 C02 H56
    Date: 2008
  8. By: Groth, Charlotta (Monetary Policy Committee Unit, Bank of England); Wheeler, Tracy (Monetary Policy Committee Unit, Bank of England)
    Abstract: We evaluate the degree of gradualism and inaction in UK monetary policy over the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) period (1997-2007) at the quarterly and the monthly frequency. After accounting for misspecification in standard Taylor rules, we find little evidence for gradualism. A measure of optimal policy is calculated. Comparing this with actual policy suggests that there is less inaction in monetary policy decisions than previous work suggested for the period prior to the formation of the MPC. In an analysis of the MPC's monthly voting decisions, we find that the activity rate, defined as the probability that the MPC vote to change interest rates in a given month, has fallen over time. This reflects the increased stability of inflation and output growth, rather than changes in the degree of gradualism and/or inaction. There is some evidence for inaction at the monthly frequency however, demonstrated by the fact that the MPC is more active in the forecast month than in the non-forecast month. The MPC also tends to wait longer before reversing the direction of interest rate changes than continuing them. This difference appears not to be driven by gradualism, and so provides further evidence for inaction at the monthly frequency. A panel data analysis suggests that the MPC as a whole is equally active as its individual members, so inaction appears not to be driven by the use of a committee to set monetary policy. There is no evidence that activity rates fall with the length of time that a member has served on the committee, suggesting that learning about the transmission mechanism has no impact on the tendency for gradualism and inaction.
    Keywords: Monetary Policy; Taylor Rules; Voting Patterns
    JEL: D78 E43 E52
    Date: 2008–01
  9. By: Muiris MacCarthaigh (Institute of Public Administration)
    Date: 2007–11–12

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