New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2012‒07‒29
five papers chosen by

  1. Voters elect politicians who closely matched their preferences By Marco Portmann; David Stadelmann; Reiner Eichenberger
  2. Bounded Rationality and Voting Decisions Exploring a 160-Year Period By David Stadelmann; Benno Torgler
  3. De Jure and de Facto Determinants of Power: Evidence from Mississippi By Bertocchi, Graziella; Dimico, Arcangelo
  4. Independent opinions? on the causal foundations of belief formation and jury theorems By Dietrich, Franz; Spiekermann, Kai
  5. The Graying of the Median Voter By Hollanders, D.A.; Koster, F.

  1. By: Marco Portmann; David Stadelmann; Reiner Eichenberger
    Abstract: What determines political candidates? election prospects? We match roll call votes of candidates for the majority elected upper house of parliament who were previously in the lower house with revealed preferences of their constituency. Thereby, we obtain a direct measure of past congruence. Politicians have a significantly and quantitatively important higher probability of election when they more closely matched the preferences of their constituency. This pr ovides evidence for the direct retrospective voting rule that voters elect politicians who represented their preferences well.
    Keywords: Retrospective Voting; Voting Behavior; Representation; Constituents? Preferences
    JEL: D72 D70
    Date: 2012–07
  2. By: David Stadelmann; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: Using a natural voting experiment in Switzerland that encompasses a 160-year period (1848-2009), we investigate whether a higher level of complexity leads to increased reliance on expert knowledge. We find that when more referenda are held on the same day, constituents are more likely to refer to parliamentary recommendations in making their decisions. This finding holds true even when we narrow our focus to referenda with a relatively lower voter turnout on days on which more than one referendum was held. We also show that when constituents face a higher level of complexity, they listen to parliament rather than interest groups.
    Keywords: Bounded rationality; voting; referenda attention; rules of thumb
    JEL: D03 D72 D83 H70
    Date: 2012–07
  3. By: Bertocchi, Graziella; Dimico, Arcangelo
    Abstract: We evaluate the empirical relevance of de facto vs. de jure determinants of political power in the U.S. South between the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. We apply a variety of estimation techniques to a previously unexploited dataset on voter registration by race covering the counties of Mississippi in 1896, shortly after the introduction of the 1890 voting restrictions encoded in the state constitution. Our results indicate that de jure voting restrictions reduce black registration but that black disfranchisement starts well before 1890 and is more intense where a black majority represents a threat to the de facto power of white elites. Moreover, the effect of race becomes stronger after 1890 suggesting that the de jure barriers may have served the purpose of institutionalizing a de facto condition of disfranchisement.
    Keywords: education; inequality; institutions; race; voting
    JEL: J15 N41 O43 P16
    Date: 2012–07
  4. By: Dietrich, Franz; Spiekermann, Kai
    Abstract: It is often claimed that opinions are more likely to be correct if they are held independently by many individuals. But what does it mean to hold independent opinions? To clarify this condition, we distinguish four notions of probabilistic opinion independence. Which notion applies depends on environmental factors such as commonly perceived evidence, or, more formally, on the causal network in which people interact and form their opinions. In a general theorem, we identify conditions on this network that guarantee opinion independence in each sense. Our results have implications for `wisdom of crowds' arguments, as we illustrate by providing old and new jury theorems.
    Keywords: Condorcet Jury Theorem; dependence between voters; probabilistic dependence; causal dependence
    JEL: D7 C0 D8
    Date: 2012–07
  5. By: Hollanders, D.A.; Koster, F. (Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research)
    Abstract: Abstract: Analyzing 30 OECD-countries in 1980-2005, this paper documents the effect of an aging electorate on pension expenditure. The first outcome is that an increase in the age of the median voter leads to less generous pension benefits. The second outcome is that an older median voter is not significantly associated with an increase in pension expenditure relative to GDP. These results do not change when health care costs are considered instead of pension expenditure. The results contradict the main prediction of median voter models that an older median voter will successfully push for higher individual benefits. An alternative specification with the dependency ratio as the operationalization of aging, does show a positive and significant effect of aging on pension expenditure. A positive effect of aging on the generosity of pensions can however also not be found in this case.
    Keywords: aging;retirement;political economy.
    JEL: C23 H55 J18
    Date: 2012

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