New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2009‒09‒05
four papers chosen by

  1. Social choice with approximate interpersonal comparisons of well-being By Pivato, Marcus
  2. Let them cheat! By Rodrigo Velez; William Thomson
  3. Nomination contests: theory and empirical evidence from professional soccer By Miklós-Thal, Jeanine; Ullrich, Hannes
  4. A small victorious war: political institutions and international conflict By Libman, Alexander

  1. By: Pivato, Marcus
    Abstract: Some social choice models assume that precise interpersonal comparisons of utility (either ordinal or cardinal) are possible, allowing a rich theory of distributive justice. Other models assume that absolutely no interpersonal comparisons are possible, or even meaningful; hence all Pareto-efficient outcomes are equally socially desirable. We compromise between these two extremes, by developing a model of `approximate' interpersonal comparisons of well-being, in terms of an incomplete preorder on the space of psychophysical states. We then define and characterize `approximate' versions of the classical egalitarian and utilitarian social welfare orderings. We show that even very weak assumptions about interpersonal comparability can yield preorders on the space of social alternatives which, while incomplete, are far more complete than the Pareto preorder (e.g. they select relatively small subsets of the Pareto frontier as being `socially optimal'). Along the way, we give sufficient conditions for an incomplete preorder to be representable using a collection of utility functions. We also develop a variant of Harsanyi's Social Aggregation Theorem.
    Keywords: interpersonal comparisons of utility; interpersonal comparisons of well-being; social choice; social welfare; approximate egalitarian; approximate utilitarian; Suppes-Sen; utility representations of partial orders; utility representations of preorders
    JEL: D81 D63 D70
    Date: 2009–09–01
  2. By: Rodrigo Velez (Texas A&M University); William Thomson (University of Rochester)
    Abstract: We consider the problem of fairly allocating a bundle of infinitely divisible commodities among a group of agents with "classical" preferences. We propose to measure an agent's "sacrifice" at an allocation by the size of the set of feasible bundles that the agent prefers to her consumption. As a solution, we select the allocations at which sacrifices are equal across agents and this common sacrifice is minimal. We then turn to the manipulability of this solution. In the tradition of Hurwicz (1972, Decision and Organization, U. Minnesota Press), we identify the equilibrium allocations of the manipulation game associated with this solution when all commodities are normal: (i) for each preference profile, each equal-division constrained Walrasian allocation is an equilibrium allocation; (ii) conversely, each equilibrium allocation is equal-division constrained Walrasian. (iii) Furthermore, we show that if normality of goods is dropped, then equilibrium allocations may not be efficient.
    Keywords: equal-sacrifice rule, manipulation game, equal-division Walrasian solution.
    Date: 2009–08
  3. By: Miklós-Thal, Jeanine; Ullrich, Hannes
    Abstract: This paper develops a theory of contests based on perceived abilities, and provides evidence for the predictions of this theory using panel data from professional soccer. We examine how soccer players perform in club matches during the informal)nomination contests for national teams prior to an important international Cup, the Euro 2008. Our differences-in-differences analysis uses players from nonqualified nations who play in the same league as a control group. We find a large positive effect of nomination contest participation on several output measures for players with intermediate chances of being nominated, as proxied by past national team participations. For players with no prior national team experience there is no significant effect. We also find support for the theory that players whose nomination is close to certain reduce their effort in order to avoid injuries or exhaustion prior to the Cup. Finally, any positive reaction is strongest for young players.
    JEL: I20
    Date: 2009
  4. By: Libman, Alexander
    Abstract: The paper provides an extremly simple model of the interaction of international and internal conflicts. However, unlike the dominant approach in the literature, which looks at these two types of conflicts as substitutes in terms of investments of agents, this paper analyzes the situation when these investments are complementary. In this case the existence of internal conflict may in fact trigger international war. The discussion is then placed in the context of the democratic peace theory.
    Keywords: Democratic peace; internal conflict; international conflict
    JEL: D74
    Date: 2009

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