New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2009‒02‒07
thirteen papers chosen by

  1. Russian Election Reform and the Effect of Social Conformity on Voting and the Party System: 2007 and 2008 By Coleman, Stephen
  2. Economics and Ideology: Causal Evidence of the Impact of Economic Conditions on Support for Redistribution and Other Ballot Proposal By Brunner, Eric; Ross, Stephen L.; Washington, Ebonya
  3. A Theory of the Corrupt Keynesian By Aidt, T.S.; Dutta, J.
  4. Can October Surprise? A Natural Experiment Assessing Late Campaign Effects By Meredith, Marc; Malhotra, Neil
  5. Judgment aggregation functions and ultraproducts By Frederik Herzberg
  6. Government Transfers and Political Support By Marco Manacorda; Edward Miguel; Andrea Vigorito
  7. Segregation and Black Political Efficacy By Ananat, Elizabeth Oltmans; Washington, Ebonya
  8. Disclosure by Politicians By Simeon Djankov; Rafael La Porta; Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes; Andrei Shleifer
  9. One Cheer for Foreign Lobbying By Aidt, T.S.; Hwang, U.
  10. It all depends on independence By Daniel Eckert; Frederik Herzberg
  11. A representative individual from Arrovian aggregation of parametric individual utilities By Frederik Herzberg
  12. On the Philosophy of Group Decision Methods II: Alternatives to Majority Rule By Risse, Mathias
  13. On the Philosophy of Group Decision Methods I: The Non-obviousness of Majority Rule By Risse, Mathias

  1. By: Coleman, Stephen
    Abstract: In 2007 Russian voters elected representatives to the State Duma under new electoral procedures that President V. Putin had instituted. A presidential election followed in 2008 leading to Putin’s new role as Prime Minister. To many observers, the reforms and the election campaigns resulted in a party system manipulated to the advantage of the government, although Putin’s reported goal was to reduce the number of political parties. Earlier research [1,2,6] reported that social conformity exerted a strong, persistent, and predictable influence on voting in national elections from 1991 to 2003. This analysis examines how the effect of social conformity on Russian voters might have changed from earlier elections as a result of the electoral reforms and campaign practices. Specific questions addressed are how well the political party system now aligns with the interests of voters, and whether this type of analysis can speak to fairness of the elections.
    Keywords: Russia; voting; elections; mathematical model; social norms; social conformity; political party system; entropy
    JEL: C51 D7 Z1 Z13 D72 C21
    Date: 2009–01–30
  2. By: Brunner, Eric (Quinnipiac U); Ross, Stephen L. (U of Connecticut); Washington, Ebonya (Yale U)
    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 residents' 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.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2008–06
  3. By: Aidt, T.S.; Dutta, J.
    Abstract: We evaluate the impact of real business cycle shocks on corruption and economic policy in a model of entry regulation in a representative democracy. We .nd that corruption is procyclical and regulation policy is counter-cyclical. Corrupt politicians engage in excessive stabilization of aggregate fluctuations and behave as if they were Keynesian. We also find that business cycle shocks can induce political instability with politicians losing office in recessions.
    Keywords: Corruption; entry regulation; performance voting; business cycles.
    JEL: D72 K42 O41
    Date: 2008–12
  4. By: Meredith, Marc (MIT); Malhotra, Neil (Stanford U)
    Abstract: One consequence of the proliferation of vote-by-mail (VBM) in certain areas of the United States is the opportunity for voters to cast ballots weeks before Election Day. Understanding the ensuing effects of VBM on late campaign information loss has important implications for both the study of campaign dynamics and public policy debates on the expansion of convenience voting. Unfortunately, the self-selection of voters into VBM makes it difficult to casually identify the effect of VBM on election outcomes. We overcome this identification problem by exploiting a natural experiment, in which some precincts are assigned to be VBM-only based on an arbitrary threshold of the number of registered voters. We assess the effects of VBM on candidate performance in the 2008 California presidential primary via a regression discontinuity design. We show that VBM both increases the probability of selecting candidates who withdrew from the race in the interval after the distribution of ballots but before Election Day and affects the relative performance of candidates remaining in the race. Thus, we find evidence of late campaign information loss, pointing to the influence of campaign events and momentum in American politics, as well as the unintended consequences of convenience voting.
    Date: 2008–10
  5. By: Frederik Herzberg (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University)
    Abstract: The relationship between propositional model theory and social decision making via premise-based procedures is explored. A one-to-one correspondence between ultrafilters on the population set and weakly universal, unanimity-respecting, systematic judgment aggregation functions is established. The proof constructs an ultraproduct of profiles, viewed as propositional structures, with respect to the ultrafilter of decisive coalitions. This representation theorem can be used to prove other properties of such judgment aggregation functions, in particular sovereignty and monotonicity, as well as an impossibility theorem for judgment aggregation in finite populations. As a corollary, Lauwers and Van Liedekerke's (1995) representation theorem for preference aggregation functions is derived.
    Keywords: judgment aggregation function, ultraproduct, ultrafilter
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2008–07
  6. By: Marco Manacorda; Edward Miguel; Andrea Vigorito
    Abstract: We estimate the impact of a large anti-poverty program -- the Uruguayan PANES -- on political support for the government that implemented it. The program mainly consisted of a monthly cash transfer for a period of roughly two and half years. Using the discontinuity in program assignment based on a pre-treatment score, we find that beneficiary households are 21 to 28 percentage points more likely to favor the current government (relative to the previous government). Impacts on political support are larger among poorer households and for those near the center of the political spectrum, consistent with the probabilistic voting model in political economy. Effects persist after the cash transfer program ends. We estimate that the annual cost of increasing government political support by 1 percentage point is roughly 0.9% of annual government social expenditures.
    JEL: D72 H53 O12 O23
    Date: 2009–02
  7. By: Ananat, Elizabeth Oltmans (Duke U); Washington, Ebonya (Yale U)
    Abstract: We find that exogenous increases in segregation lead to decreases in Black civic efficacy, as measured by an ability to elect Representatives who vote liberally and more specifically in favor of legislation that is favored by Blacks. This tendency for Representatives from more segregated MSAs to vote more conservatively arises in spite of the fact that Blacks in more segregated areas hold more liberal political views than do Blacks in less segregated locales. We find evidence that this decrease in efficacy is driven by greater divergence between Black and non-Black political views in the most segregated areas. Because Blacks are a minority in every MSA, increased divergence by race implies that the mean Black voter viewpoint is farther away from the mean voter viewpoint. Thus, reduced Black political efficacy may be one reason that Blacks in exogenously more segregated areas experience worse economic outcomes.
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2008–02
  8. By: Simeon Djankov; Rafael La Porta; Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes; Andrei Shleifer
    Abstract: We collect data on the rules and practices of financial and conflict disclosure by politicians in 175 countries. Although two thirds of the countries have some disclosure laws, less than a third make disclosures available to the public. Disclosure is more extensive in richer and more democratic countries. Disclosure is correlated with lower perceived corruption when it is public, when it identifies sources of income and conflicts of interest, and when a country is a democracy.
    JEL: H11 K42 P16
    Date: 2009–02
  9. By: Aidt, T.S.; Hwang, U.
    Abstract: This paper presents an argument in favor of foreign lobbying. We show how foreign lobbying can help internalize cross national externalities and promote social objectives.
    Keywords: Foreign lobbying; common agency; campaign contributions; cross national externalities.
    JEL: D62 D72 D78
    Date: 2008–12
  10. By: Daniel Eckert (Institute of Public Economics, Graz University); Frederik Herzberg (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University)
    Abstract: Eliaz (2004) has established a ``meta-theorem'' for preference aggregation which implies both Arrow's Theorem (1963) and the Gibbard- Satterthwaite Theorem (1973, 1975). This theorem shows that the driving force behind impossibility theorems in preference aggregation is the mutual exclusiveness of Pareto optimality, individual responsiveness (preference reversal) and non-dictatorship. Recent work on judgment aggregation has obtained important generalizations of both Arrow's Theorem (List and Pettit 2003, Dietrich and List 2007a) and the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem (Dietrich and List 2007b). One might ask, therefore, whether the impossibility results in judgment aggregation can be unified into a single theorem, a meta-theorem which entails the judgment-aggregation analogues of both Arrow's Theorem and the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem. For this purpose, we study strong monotonicity properties (among them non-manipulability) and their mutual logical dependences. It turns out that all of these monotonicity concepts are equivalent for independent judgment aggregators, and the strongest monotonicity concept, individual responsiveness, implies independence. We prove the following meta-theorem: Every systematic non-trivial judgment aggregator is oligarchic in general and even dictatorial if the collective judgment set is complete. However, systematicity is equivalent to independence for blocked agendas. Hence, as a corollary, we obtain that every independent (in particular, every individually responsive) non-trivial judgment aggregator is oligarchic. This result is a mild generalization of a similar theorem of Dietrich and List (2008), obtained by very different methods. Whilst Eliaz (2004) and Dietrich and List (2008) use sophisticated combinatorial and logical arguments to prove their results, we utilize the filter method (cf. e.g. Dietrich and Mongin, unpublished) and obtain a much simpler and more intuitive derivation of our meta-theorem.
    Keywords: judgment aggregation, independence axiom, monotonicity axiom, oligarchy, impossibility results, non-manipulability, partial rationality
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2009–01
  11. By: Frederik Herzberg (Institute of Mathematical Economics, Bielefeld University)
    Abstract: This article investigates the representative-agent hypothesis for an infinite population which has to make a social choice from a given finite-dimensional space of alternatives. It is assumed that some class of admissible strictly concave utility functions is exogenously given and that each individual's preference ordering can be represented cardinally through some admissible utility function. In addition, we assume that (i) the class of admissible utility functions allows for a smooth parametrization, and (ii) the social welfare function satisfies Arrovian rationality axioms. We prove that there exists an admissible utility function r, called representative utility function, such that any alternative which maximizes r also maximizes the social welfare function. The proof utilizes a special nonstandard model of the reals, viz. the ultraproduct of the reals with respect to the ultrafilter of decisive coalitions; this construction explicitly determines the parameter vector of the representative utility function.
    Keywords: representative individual, Arrovian social choice, ultrafilter, ultraproduct, nonstandard analysis
    JEL: D71
    Date: 2009–01
  12. By: Risse, Mathias (Harvard U)
    Abstract: In this companion piece to "On the Philosophy of Group Decision Methods I: the Non-Obviousness of Majority Rule," we take a closer look at some competitors of majority rule. This exploration supplements the conclusions of the other piece, as well as offer a further-reaching introduction to some of the challenges this field currently poses to philosophers.
    Date: 2008–11
  13. By: Risse, Mathias (Harvard U)
    Abstract: Majority rule is often adopted almost by default as a group decision rule. One might think, therefore, that the conditions under which it applies, and the argument on its behalf, are well-understood. However, the standard arguments in support of majority rule display systematic deficiencies. This article explores these weaknesses, and assesses what can be said on behalf of majority rule.
    Date: 2008–11

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