New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2012‒10‒13
six papers chosen by

  1. Conditional cash transfers, political participation, and voting behavior By Baez, Javier E.; Camacho, Adriana; Conover, Emily; Zarate, Roman A.
  2. Fair apportionment of voting districts in Hungary? By László Á. Kóczy; Péter Biró; Balázs Sziklai
  3. "My friends: it would be an error to accept": Communication and group identity in a bargaining setting By Alexander Elbittar; Andrei Gomberg
  4. The Composition of Government Expenditure with Alternative Choice Mechanisms By Creedy, John; Moslehi, Solmaz
  5. How accurate are surveyed preferences for public policies? Evidence from a unique institutional setup By Patricia Funk
  6. Uncertainty, Electoral Incentives and Political Myopia By Alessandra Bonfiglioli; Gino Gancia

  1. By: Baez, Javier E.; Camacho, Adriana; Conover, Emily; Zarate, Roman A.
    Abstract: This paper estimates the effect of enrollment in a large scale anti-poverty program in Colombia, Familias en Accion, on intent to vote, turnout and electoral choice. For identification the analysis uses discontinuities in program eligibility and variation in program enrollment across voting booths. It finds that Familias en Accion had a positive effect on political participation in the 2010 presidential elections by increasing the probability that program beneficiaries registered to vote and cast a ballot, particularly among women. Regarding voter's choice, the authors find that program participants expressed a stronger preference for the official party that implemented and expanded the program. Overall, the findings show that voters respond to targeted transfers and that these transfers can foster support for incumbents, thus making the case for designing political and legislative mechanisms, as the laws recently passed by the Colombian government, that avoid successful anti-poverty schemes from being captured by political patronage.
    Keywords: Parliamentary Government,Population Policies,Politics and Government,Political Systems and Analysis,E-Government
    Date: 2012–10–01
  2. By: László Á. Kóczy (Óbuda University); Péter Biró (MTA Közgazdasági és Regionális Tudományi Kutatóközpont); Balázs Sziklai (MTA Közgazdasági és Regionális Tudományi Kutatóközpont)
    Abstract: One of the aims of the new electoral law of Hungary has been to define a fairer apportionment into voting districts. This is ensured by a set of rules slightly more premissive than those laid out in the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters of the Venice Commission. These rules fix the average size of the voting districts, require voting districts not to split smaller towns and villages and not to cross county borders. We show that such an apportionment is mathematically impossible. We make suggestions both to the theoretical approach to resolve this problem, study the properties of our approach and using our efficient algorithm and the data of the 2010 national elections we determine the optimal apportionment. We also study the expected effect of demographic changes and formulate recommendations to adhere to the rules over the long term: increase the number of voting districts to about 130, allow the number of voting districts to change flexibly at each revision of the districts and base the districts on regions rather than counties.
    Keywords: social choice theory, apportionment, electoral law, Venice Commission, one man-one vote, Alabama paradox, population paradox, Hare quota JEL Codes: D72, D78, D62
    Date: 2012–10
  3. By: Alexander Elbittar (Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE)); Andrei Gomberg (Centro de Investigacion Economica (CIE), Instituto Tecnologico Autonomo de Mexico (ITAM))
    Abstract: In this paper we introduce communication into intergroup ultimatum bargaining in a lab. The responder groups vote whether to accept the proposals with unanimity required either for acceptance or for rejection. In contrast with the no-communication results reported in our previous study (Elbittar, Gomberg and Sour 2011), the group decision rule does affect the individual voting behavior when subjects are allowed to exchange messages before voting. In fact, when acceptance is the default, subjects become substantially more likely to vote to reject an offer. As a result, the formal group decision-making rule turns out to have little impact on group decisions, which follow the behavior of the more confronational subjects, as predicted by the "group discontinuity hypothesis" of the psychological literature.
    Keywords: Bargaining games, group decision making, communication and experiments
    JEL: C92 D44 D82
    Date: 2012
  4. By: Creedy, John; Moslehi, Solmaz
    Abstract: This paper investigates the choice of the composition of government expenditure using both positive and normative approaches. The former involves aggregation over selfish voters (simple majority voting and stochastic voting are examined), while the latter involves the choice by a single disinterested individual (considered to maximise a social welfare function). The approach allows direct comparisons of the choice mechanisms. The structures examined include a transfer payment combined with a pure public good, and a transfer payment with tax-financed education. Explicit solutions are obtained for the choice of expenditure components, and these are shown to depend on the proportional difference between the arithmetic mean and another measure of location of incomes, where the latter depends on the choice mechanism. In each case the expenditure composition depends on an inequality measure defined in terms of the proportional difference between a measure of location of the income distribution and the arithmetic mean, where the location measure depends on the decision mechanism.
    Keywords: Government expenditure, Majority voting, Stochastic voting, Public goods, Social welfare,
    Date: 2012–09–24
  5. By: Patricia Funk
    Abstract: Opinion polls are widely used to capture public sentiments on a variety of issues. If citizens are unwilling to reveal certain policy preferences to others, opinion polls may fail to characterize population preferences accurately. The innovation of this paper is to use unique data to measure biases in opinion polls for a broad range of policies. I combine data on 184 referenda held in Switzerland between 1987 and 2007, with postballot surveys that ask for each proposal how the citizens voted. The difference between stated preferences in the survey and revealed preferences at the ballot box provides a direct measure of bias in opinion polls. I find that these biases vary by policy areas, with the largest ones occurring in policies on immigration, international integration, and votes involving liberal/conservative attitudes. Also, citizens show a tendency to respond in accordance to the majority.
    Keywords: Opinion polls, Biases, Preference Falsification, Direct Democracy
    JEL: D03 Z
    Date: 2012–09
  6. By: Alessandra Bonfiglioli; Gino Gancia
    Abstract: In this paper, we study the determinants of political myopia in a rational model of electoral accountability where the key elements are informational frictions and uncertainty. We build a framework where political ability is ex-ante unknown and policy choices are not perfectly observable. On the one hand, elections improve accountability and allow to keep well-performing incumbents. On the other, politicians invest too little in costly policies with future returns in an attempt to signal high ability and increase their reelection probability. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, uncertainty reduces political myopia and may, under some conditions, increase social welfare. We use the model to study how political rewards can be set so as to maximise social welfare and the desirability of imposing a one-term limit to governments. The predictions of our theory are consistent with a number of stylised facts and with a new empirical observation documented in this paper: aggregate uncertainty, measured by economic volatility, is associated to better ...scal discipline in a panel of 20 OECD countries.
    JEL: E6 H3
    Date: 2012–10–05

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.