New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2009‒10‒03
seven papers chosen by

  1. Beautiful Politicians By Amy King; Andrew Leigh
  2. Pre-Electoral Coalitions and Post-Election Bargaining By Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay; Kalyan Chatterjee; Tomas Sjostrom
  3. Short-term Deviations from Simple Majority Voting By Theresa Fahrenberger
  4. Election Results and Opportunistic Policies: A New Test of the Rational Political Business Cycle Model By Aidt, T.S.; Veiga, F.J.; Veiga, L.G.
  5. An experimental study of jury deliberation By Jacob K. Goeree; Leeat Yariv
  6. Vote-Share Contracts and Learning-by-Doing By Markus Müller

  1. By: Amy King; Andrew Leigh
    Abstract: Are beautiful politicians more likely to be elected? To test this, we use evidence from Australia, a country in which voting is compulsory, and in which voters are given ‘How to Vote’ cards depicting photos of the major party candidates as they arrive to vote. Using raters chosen to be representative of the electorate, we assess the beauty of political candidates from major political parties, and then estimate the effect of beauty on voteshare for candidates in the 2004 federal election. Beautiful candidates are indeed more likely to be elected, with a one standard deviation increase in beauty associated with a 1½ – 2 percentage point increase in voteshare. Our results are robust to several specification checks: adding party fixed effects, dropping well-known politicians, using non-Australian beauty raters, omitting candidates of non-Anglo Saxon appearance, controlling for age, and analyzing the ‘beauty gap’ between candidates running in the same electorate. The marginal effect of beauty is larger for male candidates than for female candidates, and appears to be approximately linear. Consistent with the theory that returns to beauty reflect discrimination, we find suggestive evidence that beauty matters more in electorates with a higher share of apathetic voters.
    Keywords: economics of beauty, elections, voter rationality, information shortcuts, thin slices
    JEL: D72 J45 J71
    Date: 2009–08
  2. By: Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay; Kalyan Chatterjee; Tomas Sjostrom
    Abstract: Pre-electoral coalitions occur frequently in parliamentary democracies. They influence post election coalition formation and surplus division. We study a game theoretic model where political parties can form coalitions both before (ex ante) and after (ex post) the elections. Ex ante coalitions can commit to a seat-sharing arrangement, but neither to a policy nor to a division of rents from office; coalition members are even free to break up and join other coalitions after the election. Equilibrium ex ante coalitions are not necessarily made up of the most ideologically similar parties, and they form under (national list) proportional representation as well as plurality rule. They do not form just to avoid "splitting the vote", but also because seat-sharing arrangements will influence the ex post bargaining and coalition formation. The ex post bargaining protocol matters greatly: there is more scope for coalition formation, both ex ante and ex post, under an Austen-Smith and Banks protocol than under "random recognition".
    Keywords: Ex ante coalition, ex post bargaining
    JEL: C72 D72 H19
    Date: 2009–09
  3. By: Theresa Fahrenberger (CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: I discuss instances where a committee wants to deviate from the simple majority rule by adopting an alternative voting scheme for two consecutive binary ballots. The alternative voting rule, called Minority Voting as an Exception (MVE), works as follows: In the first ballot a b-majority rule is used, where b < 1/2 is equal to the minority fraction that favors some project, say project 1. This allows the minority to induce the adoption of project 1. After the first ballot all voting winners, i.e. the minority of project winners, lose their voting rights for the upcoming second ballot, where the simple majority rule is used. Hence, MVE may benefit both project losers and winners and may thus be unanimously accepted. The analysis of this short-term deviation is presented with a potential application in the sphere of communal politics.
    Keywords: voting, minority, communal politics
    JEL: D7
    Date: 2009–07
  4. By: Aidt, T.S.; Veiga, F.J.; Veiga, L.G.
    Abstract: The literature on the rational political business cycle suggests that politicians systematically manipulate economic and fiscal conditions before elections to increase their chance of gaining reelection. Most tests of this theory look for evidence of pre- election distortions in fiscal policy. We propose a new test that, instead, explores the implied two-way interaction between the magnitude of the opportunistic distortion and the margin of victory. The test is implemented using a panel of 278 Portuguese municipalities (from 1979 to 2005). The results show that (1) opportunism pays off, leading to a larger win-margin for the incumbent; (2) incumbents behave more opportunistically when their win-margin is small. These results are consistent with the theoretical model.
    Keywords: Voting and popularity functions, opportunism, rational political business cycles, local government, system estimation, Portugal
    JEL: D72 E32 H72
    Date: 2009–09–24
  5. By: Jacob K. Goeree; Leeat Yariv
    Abstract: We study the effects of deliberation on collective decisions. In a series of experiments, we vary groups' preference distributions (between common and conflicting interests) and the institutions by which decisions are reached (simple majority, two-thirds majority, and unanimity). When deliberation is prohibited, different institutions generate significantly different outcomes, tracking the theoretical comparative statics. Deliberation, however, significantly diminishes institutional differences and uniformly improves efficiency. Furthermore, communication protocols exhibit an array of stable attributes: messages are public, consistently reveal private information, provide a good predictor for ultimate group choices, and follow particular (endogenous) sequencing.
    Keywords: Jury decision making, deliberative voting, strategic voting
    JEL: C92 D02 D72
    Date: 2009–09
  6. By: Markus Müller (CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich, Switzerland)
    Abstract: We examine the interaction between vote-share contracts and learning-by-doing. Candidates for a political office are allowed to offer vote-share thresholds. The elected politician has to achieve at least this threshold value in his reelection result to remain in office for a second term. We assume there are learningby- doing effects for incumbents and show that competition leads to vote-share contracts implementing the socially optimal threshold, which is above one-half. Vote-share contracts improve the average ability level of a reelected politician and increase effort in the first term of an incumbent. On the other hand, vote-share contracts reduce the probability that learning-by-doing takes place. However, the overall effect of vote-share contracts is welfare-enhancing, even under the assumption of learning-by-doing.
    Keywords: elections, political contracts, vote-share thresholds, learning-by-doing effects, incumbency advantage
    JEL: D82 H4
    Date: 2009–07
  7. By: Pereira, Carlos; Kuhl Teles, Vladimir
    Abstract: This manuscript empirically assesses the effects of political institutions on economic growth. It analyzes how political institutions affect economic growth in different stages of democratization and economic development by means of dynamic panel estimation with interaction terms. The new empirical results obtained show that political institutions work as a substitute for democracy promoting economic growth. In other words, political institutions are important for increasing economic growth, mainly when democracy is not consolidated. Moreover, political institutions are extremely relevant to economic outcomes in periods of transition to democracy and in poor countries with high ethnical fractionalization.
    Date: 2009–09–03

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