New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2012‒04‒23
seven papers chosen by

  1. Quota Manipulation and Fair Voting Rules in Committees By František Turnovec
  2. Optimal Districting with Endogenous Party Platforms By E Bracco
  3. Compulsory and Voluntary Voting Mechanisms: An Experimental Study By Sourav Bhattacharya
  4. A Theory of Political Entrenchment By Saint-Paul, Gilles; Ticchi, Davide; Vindigni, Andrea
  5. Political Competition in Hard Times By Zudenkova, Galina
  6. Dissent Voting Behavior of Central Bankers: What Do We Really Know? By Roman Horváth; Kateøina Šmídková; Jan Zápal; Marek Rusnák
  7. Small is Different Size, Political Representation and Governance By Nicholas Charron; José Fernández-Albertos; Victor Lapuente

  1. By: František Turnovec (Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic)
    Abstract: The concept of fairness is being discussed related to the distribution of voting power among different actors of voting. We are using the following, intuitively natural principle of fairness: each unit of resources (shares, seats) should yield the same voting power (influence). Voting power is not directly observable: as a proxy for it voting weights are used. Therefore, fairness is usually defined in terms of voting weights (e.g. voting weights are proportional to the results of an election). Assuming that a principle of fair distribution of voting weights is selected, we are addressing the question of how to achieve equality of relative voting power (at least approximately) to relative voting weights.
    Keywords: Fairness, optimal quota, simple weighted committee, strict proportional power, voting and power indices.
    JEL: C71 D72 H77
    Date: 2012–03
  2. By: E Bracco
    Abstract: This paper proposes a theory of socially optimal districting in a legislative-election model with endogenous party platforms. We generalize the model of Coate and Knight (2007), allowing parties to strategically condition their platforms on the districting. The socially optimal districting re ects the ideological leaning of the population, so that parties internalize voters' preferences in their policy platforms. The optimal seat-vote curve is unbiased when voters are risk-neutral, and -contrary to previous findings-biased against the largest partisan group when voters are risk-averse. The model is then calibrated by an econometric analysis of the elections of U.S. State legislators during the 1990s.
    Date: 2011
  3. By: Sourav Bhattacharya
    Abstract: We report on an experiment comparing compulsory and voluntary voting mechanisms. Theory predicts that these different mechanisms have different implications both for the sincerity of the voting decisions and for the participation decisions of voters, and we find strong support for these theoretical predictions in our experimental data. Voters are able to adapt the sincerity of their votes or their participation decisions to the different voting mechanisms in such a way as to make the welfare differences between these mechanisms negligible. We argue that this finding may account for the co-existence of these two voting mechanisms in nature.
    Date: 2011–12
  4. By: Saint-Paul, Gilles (University of Toulouse I); Ticchi, Davide (IMT Lucca); Vindigni, Andrea (IMT Lucca)
    Abstract: We develop a theory of endogenous political entrenchment in a simple two-party dynamic model of income redistribution with probabilistic voting. A partially self-interested left-wing party may implement (entrenchment) policies reducing the income of its own constituency, the lower class, in order to consolidate its future political power. Such policies increase the net gain that low-skill agents obtain from income redistribution, which only the Left (but not the Right) can credibly commit to provide, and therefore may help offsetting a potential future aggregate ideological shock averse to the left-wing party. We demonstrate that political entrenchment by the Left occurs only if incumbency rents are sufficiently high and that low-skill citizens may vote for this party even though they ratio-ally expect the adoption of these policies. We also discuss the case where the left-wing party may have the incentive to ex-ante commit to not pursue entrenchment policies once in power. Finally, we show that, in a more general framework, the entrenchment policies can be implemented also by the right-wing party. The comparative statics analyzes the effects of state capacity, a positive bias of voters for one party and income inequality on the incentives of the incumbent party to pursue entrenchment policies. The importance of our theory for constitutionally legislated term limits is also discussed. The theory sheds light on why left-wing parties or politicians often support liberal immigration policies of unskilled workers, are sometime in favor of free trade with less developed economies and of globalization more generally, or fail to reform plainly "dysfunctional" public educational systems damaging the lower classes.
    Keywords: political entrenchment, constituencies, inequality, inefficient redistribution, checks and balances, political rents, state fiscal capacity
    JEL: D72 P16
    Date: 2012–04
  5. By: Zudenkova, Galina
    Abstract: This paper analyzes a spatial model of political competition between two policy- motivated parties in hard times of crisis. Hard times are modeled in terms of policy- making costs carried by a newly elected party. The results predict policy divergence in equilibrium. If the ideological preferences of parties are quite diverse and extreme, there is a unique equilibrium in which the parties announce symmetric platforms and each party wins with probability one half. If one party is extreme while the other is more moderate, there is a unique equilibrium in which the parties announce asymmetric platforms. If the preferred policies of the parties are not very distinct, there are two equilibria with asymmetric platforms. An important property of equilibrium with asymmetric platforms is that a winning party necessarily announces its most preferred policy as a platform. JEL classification: D72. Keywords: Spatial model; Political competition; Two-party system; Policy-motivated parties; Hard times; Crisis.
    Keywords: Partits polítics, 32 - Política,
    Date: 2012
  6. By: Roman Horváth (Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic); Kateøina Šmídková (Institute of Economic Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic); Jan Zápal (London School of Economics); Marek Rusnák (Czech National Bank)
    Abstract: We examine the determinants of the dissent in central bank boards’ voting records about monetary policy rates in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden, the U.K. and the U.S. In contrast to previous studies, we consider about 25 different macroeconomic, financial, institutional, psychological or preference-related factors jointly and deal formally with the attendant model uncertainty using Bayesian model averaging. We find that the rate of dissent is between 5% and 20% in these central banks. Our results suggest that most regressors, including those capturing the effect of inflation and output, are not robust determinants of voting dissent. The difference in central bankers’ preferences is likely to drive the dissent in the U.S. Fed and the Bank of England. For the Czech and Hungarian central banks, average dissent tends to be larger when policy rates are changed. Some evidence is also found that food price volatility tends to increase the voting dissent in the U.S. Fed and in Riksbank.
    Keywords: monetary policy, voting record, dissent
    JEL: E52 E58
    Date: 2012–02
  7. By: Nicholas Charron (Quality of Government Institute University of Gothenburg); José Fernández-Albertos (Institute for Public Goods and Policies, CSIC); Victor Lapuente (Quality of Government Institute University of Gothenburg)
    Abstract: In the theoretical literature on government design, few variables have received more attention than the size of the polity. Since Plato’s famous prediction that the optimal size of a political unit should be 5040 free citizens, the list of thinkers concerned about state size would include Aristotle, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and many of the founding fathers, among many others. One of the fathers of modern political science, Robert Dahl, devoted great attention to what he called the “elemental question of what is appropriate unit for a democratic political system … Among the vast number of theoretically possible ways of dividing up the inhabitants of this globe into more or less separate political systems, … are there any principles that instruct us as to how one ought to bound some particular collection of people, in order that they may rule themselves?” (Dahl 1967: 953). Economists have not neglected these issues, as they conform the core of the fiscal federalism literature (Oates 1972). A more recent literature, pioneered by Alesina and Spolaore’s work (1997, 2003), provides an elegant formal theoretical framework incorporating both political and economic elements in order to highlight the fundamental trade-off that the choice of the size of the policy inevitably faces: Large polities find it easier to provide more public goods, but confront the costly political problem of greater heterogeneity of preferences among the population.
    Date: 2012–04–15

General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.