New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2011‒08‒15
six papers chosen by

  1. Employment, Wages and Voter Turnout By Kerwin Kofi Charles; Melvin Stephens Jr.
  2. The (sub-)optimality of the majority rule By Schmitz, Patrick W.; Tröger, Thomas
  3. Smallholder Farmers and Collective Action: What Determines the Intensity of Participation? By Fischer, Elisabeth; Qaim, Matin
  4. The Political Economy of Project Preparation: An Empirical Analysis of World Bank Projects By Kilby, Christopher
  5. The Economic Returns to Membership of a Dairy Discussion Group: Evidence from the Irish National Farm Survey By Hennessy, Thia; Lapple, Doris; Newman, Carol F.
  6. Does Bill Co-sponsorship Affect Campaign Contributions?: Evidence from the U.S. House of Representatives, 2000-2008 By Shaun M. Tanger; Richard Alan Seals Jr.; David N. Laband

  1. By: Kerwin Kofi Charles; Melvin Stephens Jr.
    Abstract: This paper argues that, since activities that provide political information are complementary with leisure, increased labor market activity should lower turnout, but should do so least in prominent elections where information is ubiquitous. Using official county-level voting data and a variety of OLS and TSLS models, we find that increases in wages and employment: reduce voter turnout in gubernatorial elections by a significant amount; have no effect on Presidential turnout; and raise the share of persons voting in a Presidential election who do not vote on a House of Representative election on the same ballot. We argue that this pattern (which contradicts some previous findings in the literature) can be fully accounted for by an information argument, and is either inconsistent with or not fully explicable by arguments based on citizens’ psychological motivations to vote in good or bad times; changes in logistical voting costs; or transitory migration. Using individual-level panel data methods and multiple years’ data from the American National Election Study (ANES) we confirm that increases in employment lead to less use of the media and reduced political knowledge, and present associational individual evidence that corroborates our main argument.
    JEL: D72 D80 J22
    Date: 2011–08
  2. By: Schmitz, Patrick W.; Tröger, Thomas
    Abstract: We consider collective choice from two alternatives. Ex ante, each agent is uncertain about which alternative she prefers, and may be uncertain about the intensity of her preferences. An environment is given by a probability distribution over utility vectors that is symmetric across agents and neutral across alternatives. In many environments, the majority voting rule maximizes agents' ex-ante expected utilities among all anonymous and dominant-strategy implementable choice rules. But in some environments where the agents' utilities are stochastically correlated, other dominant-strategy choice rules are better for all agents. If utilities are stochastically independent across agents, majority voting is ex-ante optimal among all anonymous and incentive-compatible rules. We also compare rules from an interim viewpoint.
    Keywords: majority rule
    JEL: D72
    Date: 2011–06
  3. By: Fischer, Elisabeth; Qaim, Matin
    Abstract: Collective action has become an important strategy for smallholders in developing countries to remain competitive in rapidly changing markets. However, within farmer groups, the commitment of individual members can vary, as the expected net benefits are not the same for all individuals, and opportunities to free-ride exist. Since the benefits of collective action emerge primarily through the exploitation of economies of scale, low participation rates in joint activities may put a serious threat to the success and viability of farmer groups. This article investigates determinants of smallholder participation intensity and free-riding, using the example of banana groups in Kenya. The results suggest that family labor availability and previous benefits that members received through the groups positively influence their intensity of participation in group meetings and collective marketing. Free-riding can mostly be attributed to structural and institutional conditions, such as group size and the timing of payments. More diversified farmers are less likely to sell collectively. Since smallholders are often highly diversified in their agricultural activities, farmer groups should also diversify, focusing on more than a single crop. Further policy implications are discussed.
    Keywords: collective action, participation intensity, smallholder farmers, Kenya, Community/Rural/Urban Development, Institutional and Behavioral Economics, International Development, D23, D71, O13, Q13,
    Date: 2011–07
  4. By: Kilby, Christopher (Department of Economics and Statistics, Villanova School of Business, Villanova University)
    Abstract: In the last few years, numerous econometric studies have unearthed evidence of donor influence over the geographic distribution of funds from international financial institutions (IFIs). Scholars are now beginning to use quantitative methods to delve into the details of donor influence to understand better how IFIs function and to guide institutional reform. The evidence suggests that donors influence both the amount of funds committed (the number and size of loans) and the disbursement of committed funds. This paper advances the literature by applying stochastic frontier analysis to a novel data source to examine factors that affect how quickly World Bank projects proceed from identification to approval, i.e., how long it takes to prepare a project. Accelerated preparation is one explanation for how the World Bank might increase the number of loans to a recipient member country within a fixed time frame, for example in response to that country siding with powerful donor countries on important UN votes or while that country occupies an elected seat on the UN Security Council or the World Bank Executive Board.
    Keywords: Donor Influence; Project Preparation; Stochastic Frontier Analysis; United States; UN voting; World Bank
    JEL: F35 F53 O19
    Date: 2011–07
  5. By: Hennessy, Thia; Lapple, Doris; Newman, Carol F.
    Abstract: In December 2009 the Irish Department of Agriculture launched the Dairy Efficiency Programme. The Programme, which is operated through a series of discussion groups, is designed to promote technology transfer to dairy farmers. Drawing on National Farm Survey data from 2009, the purpose of this paper is to quantify the economic return to membership of dairy discussion groups. An endogenous switching regression model is specified for over 300 dairy farms to assess the impact of discussion group participation on farm gross margins. The results indicate self-selection into discussion groups, suggesting that âbetterâ farmers tend to participate. Generally, younger farmers who operate larger farms are more likely to join discussion groups. Discussion group members have higher gross margins than non-members, but non-members could increase their gross margins if they join discussion groups. Overall, the findings confirm positive returns to discussion group membership, thus supporting the Dairy Efficiency Programme.
    Keywords: Endogenous switching regression model, Discussion group membership, Dairy Efficiency Programme, Livestock Production/Industries,
    Date: 2011–04
  6. By: Shaun M. Tanger; Richard Alan Seals Jr.; David N. Laband
    Abstract: There is considerable variation across members of the United States House of Representatives with respect to the number of bills they co-sponsor each legislative cycle. But we have little understanding of what motivates bill co-sponsorship activity. It seems unlikely that prospective campaign contributors to a specific legislator reward his/her bill co-sponsorship activity per se, as it merely contributes to the productivity of some other member(s) of the legislature. We develop a two-stage least squares (2SLS) model to examine the impact of the number of bills co-sponsored by members of the U.S. House of Representatives on campaign contributions received by those individuals over the time period 2000-2008. Bill co-sponsorship has a large and positive effect on campaign contributions through bill sponsorship.
    Keywords: bill cosponsorship; sponsorship; campaign contributions; coalition building; reputational capitol
    JEL: H10 H11
    Date: 2011–08

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