nep-cdm New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2008‒06‒13
seven papers chosen by
Roland Kirstein
Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg

  1. Pork Barrel Politics in Postwar Italy, 1953–1994. By Golden, M.; Picci, L.
  2. Bringing Home the Bacon: An empirical analysis of the extent and effects of pork-barreling in Australian politics By Andrew Leigh
  3. Is Transparency to No Avail? Committee Decision-Making, Pre-Meetings, and Credible Deals By Otto H. Swank; Bauke Visser
  4. Economics and Ideology: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposals By Eric Brunner; Stephen L. Ross; Ebonya Washington
  5. The EU Constitutional Process: A Failure of Political Representation? By Ben Crum
  6. The Efficiency of Direct Public Involvement in Environmental Policymaking: An Experimental Test By Christopher Bruce; Jeremy Clark
  7. Enduring Rents. By Aidt, T.; Hillman, A.

  1. By: Golden, M.; Picci, L.
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the political determinants of the distribution of infrastructure expenditures by the Italian government to the country’s 92 provinces between 1953 and 1994. Extending implications of theories of legislative behavior to the context of open-list proportional representation, we examine whether individually powerful legislators and ruling parties direct spending to core or marginal electoral districts, and whether opposition parties share resources via a norm of universalism. We show that when districts elect politically more powerful deputies from the governing parties, they receive more investments. We interpret this as indicating that legislators with political resources reward their core voters by investing in public works in their districts. The governing parties, by contrast, are not able to discipline their own members of parliament sufficiently to target the parties’ areas of core electoral strength. Finally, we find no evidence that a norm of universalism operates to steer resources to areas when the main opposition party gains more votes.
    Keywords: Pork barrel, distributive politics, electoral systems, Italy, public spending, infrastructure.
    Date: 2007–09
  2. By: Andrew Leigh
    Abstract: Which electorates receive targeted funding, and does targeted funding swing votes? To answer these questions, I analyze four discretionary programs funded by the Australian federal government during the 2001-2004 election cycle. Controlling for relevant demographic characteristics of the electorate, those electorates held by the governing coalition received a larger share of discretionary funding, and a larger number of program grants. Among government seats, funding does not appear to have been directed towards those that were more marginal. More discretionary funding – particularly on road-building – was associated with a larger swing towards the government in the 2004 election.
    Keywords: elections, local expenditure, voting, targeted funding, pork barreling
    JEL: D72 R58
    Date: 2008–05
  3. By: Otto H. Swank; Bauke Visser
    Abstract: Transparent decision-making processes are widely regarded as a prerequisite for the working of a representative democracy. It facilitates accountability, and citizens may suspect that decisions, if taken behind closed doors, do not promote their interests. Why else the secrecy? We provide a model of committee decision-making that explains the public.s demand for transparency, and committee members. aversion to it. In line with case study evidence, we show how pressures to become transparent induce committee members to organize pre-meetings away from the public eye. Outcomes of pre-meetings, deals, are less determined, more anarchic, than those of formal meetings, but within bounds. We characterize deals that are self-enforcing in the formal meeting.
    Keywords: Committee decision-making, reputational concerns, transparency, pre-meetings, deliberation, self-enforcing deals, coalitions
    JEL: D71 D72 D82
    Date: 2008
  4. By: Eric Brunner (Quinnipiac University); Stephen L. Ross (University of Connecticut); Ebonya Washington (Yale University)
    Abstract: There is a large literature demonstrating that positive economic conditions increase support for incumbent candidates, but little understanding of how economic conditions affect preferences for parties and for particulars of their platforms. We ask how exogenous shifts to the value of residentsÇ human capital affect voting behavior in California neighborhoods. As predicted by economic theory, we find that positive economic shocks decrease support for redistributive policies. More notably, we find that conservative voting on a wide variety of ballot propositions--from crime to gambling to campaign finance--is increasing in economic well being. We further show that positive economic circumstances decrease turnout and have a mixed impact on candidate choice, highlighting a limitation of inferring policy preferences from party choice.
    Keywords: Voting, Employment, Taxes, Expenditures
    JEL: D72 H0
    Date: 2008–06
  5. By: Ben Crum
    Abstract: This paper proposes to assess the representative quality of European Union decision-making by way of a micro-approach which traces the effectiveness of the mechanisms of representation that connect the European peoples to the decision-making process. In particular, it proposes to distinguish systematically between ‘upstream’ controls that delimit the mandate of political representatives and ‘downstream’ controls that allow political representatives to justify their decisions through deliberation. This approach is applied to the various phases of the making of the EU Constitutional Treaty and its dramatic failure due to the negative referendum verdicts in France and the Netherlands. Thus it is demonstrated that the EU Constitutional process has suffered from a lack of mechanisms for aligning politicians with public opinion. In particular, ‘upstream’ controls fell short in the very conception of the process in the 2001 Laeken Declaration and in the negotiations in the Intergovernmental Conference. On the other hand, ‘downstream’ controls remained under-activated in the European Convention and came too late in the ratification phase. Thus the Laeken process emerges as a process involving drifting political elites that, once brought face to face with their democratic principals again, failed to convincingly justify their actions. As the superimposition of the various phases had the overall effect of blurring all lines of political control and accountability over the process, it was eventually to the people to pull the emergency brake to prevent its outcome from taking effect.
    Keywords: European Council; political representation; intergovernmental conferences; deliberative democracy; legitimacy; European Convention
    Date: 2008–06–15
  6. By: Christopher Bruce; Jeremy Clark (University of Canterbury)
    Abstract: In one of the most ambitious forms of environmental decision-making, representatives of interested parties – environmentalists, developers, farmers, loggers, miners, etc. - are charged with the responsibility of developing a set of public policies that is acceptable to all of them. Although this approach has become increasingly popular, and has been widely discussed in the academic literature, little is known about the characteristics of the outcomes that are reached in this type of negotiation. We do not know, for example, whether these outcomes meet the standard criteria for efficiency or equity. In this paper, we use laboratory experiments to test whether a number of axiomatic models of bargaining can predict the behavior of the parties to environmental decision making. In recognition of the multi-dimensional aspect of most public land use conflicts, we ask pairs of subjects to negotiate over two goods, without the possibility of cash side payments. We thus provide one of the first experimental tests of a prediction associated with the Edgeworth Box: that parties with an initial endowment that is Pareto inefficient will make trades until they reach a Pareto efficient allocation. We further test whether parties in particular reach the Nash bargain when it coincides with or conflicts with outcomes that maximise the parties’ joint payoffs and with outcomes at which the parties’ receive equal payoffs. Finally, the effect of providing parties with full or partial information regarding payoffs is also examined.
    Keywords: Axiomatic models of bargaining; Experimental tests; Land use conflicts; Collaborative policymaking
    JEL: C92 D74 H41 J52 Q51
    Date: 2008–05–05
  7. By: Aidt, T.; Hillman, A.
    Abstract: Rent seeking is often studied with reference to a contemporaneous rent evaluated at a point in time. We study the social cost of rent seeking when rents endure over time, but may have to be re-contested because of imperfect rent protection, or may disappear because of deregulation. The present value of a contested rent measures the social cost of rent seeking, irrespective of imperfect rent protection and the prospect of deregulation. Rent seeking is discouraged by the inability of governments to commit to protect rents and by their inability to commit to rentgenerating regulations and policies. Moreover, lasting deregulation can preempt a substantial fraction of the potential rent seeking cost.
    Keywords: Rent seeking, contests, rent dissipation, deregulation, liberalization, commitment.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2008–01

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