nep-cdm New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2016‒01‒18
ten papers chosen by
Stan C. Weeber, McNeese State University

  1. Voting In Legislative Elections Under Plurality Rule By Hughes, Niall
  2. Multicandidate Elections: Aggregate Uncertainty in the Laboratory By Laurent Bouton; Micael Castanheira; Aniol Llorente-Saguer
  3. The role of non-voting in shifts in support for Italian political parties (2006-2008) By Luana Russo
  4. Rational Ignorance, Elections, and Reform By Prato, Carlo; Wolton, Stephane
  5. Electoral Imbalances and their Consequences By Prato, Carlo; Wolton, Stephane
  6. Lobbying, Inside and Out: How Special Interest Groups Influence Policy Choices By Wolton, Stephane
  7. When the Revolutionary Wave Comes: Arab Spring and the Role of the European Ñommission in the Schengen Reform, 2011-2013 By Anna A. Dekalchuk
  8. Divided Majority and Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment By Laurent Bouton; Micael Castanheira; Aniol Llorente-Saguer
  9. The Many Faces of Human Sociality: Uncovering the Distribution and Stability of Social Preferences By Adrian Bruhin; Ernst Fehr; Daniel Schunk
  10. How Transparency Kills Information Aggregation : Theory and Experiment By Fehrler, Sebastian; Hughes, Niall

  1. By: Hughes, Niall (Department of Economics University of Warwick)
    Abstract: Models of single district plurality elections show that with three parties anything can happen - extreme policies can win regardless of voter preferences. I show that when single district elections are used to fill a legislature we get back to a world where the median voter matters. An extreme policy will generally only come about if it is preferred to a more moderate policy by the median voter in a majority of districts. The mere existence of a centrist party can lead to moderate outcomes even if the party itself wins few seats. Furthermore, I show that while standard single district elections always have misaligned voting i.e. some voters do not vote for their preferred choice, equilibria of the legislative election exist with no misaligned voting in any district. Finally, I show that when parties are impatient, a fixed rule on how legislative bargaining occurs will lead to more coalition governments, while uncertainty will favour single party governments Classification-JEL Numbers: C71 ; C72 ; D71 ; D72 ; D78
    Keywords: Strategic Voting ; Legislative Elections ; Duverger's Law ; Plurality Rule ; Polarization ; Poisson Games
    Date: 2015
  2. By: Laurent Bouton (Georgetown University, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CEPR and NBER); Micael Castanheira (Université Libre de Bruxelles, FNRS and CEPR); Aniol Llorente-Saguer (Queen Mary University of London)
    Abstract: The rational-voter model is often criticized on the grounds that two of its central predictions (the <i>paradox of voting</i> and <i>Duverger's Law</i>) are at odds with reality. Recent theoretical advances suggest that these empirically unsound predictions might be an artifact of an (arguably unrealistic) assumption: the absence of <i>aggregate uncertainty</i> about the distribution of preferences in the electorate. In this paper, we propose direct empirical evidence of the effect of aggregate uncertainty in multicandidate elections. Adopting a theory-based experimental approach, we explore whether aggregate uncertainty indeed favors the emergence of non-Duverger's law equilibria in plurality elections. Our experimental results support the main theoretical predictions: sincere voting is a predominant strategy under aggregate uncertainty, whereas without aggregate uncertainty, voters massively coordinate their votes behind one candidate, who wins almost surely.
    Keywords: Rational voter model, Multicandidate elections, Plurality, Aggregate uncertainty, Experiments
    JEL: C92 D70
    Date: 2015–12
  3. By: Luana Russo
    Abstract: The 2008 Italian Parliamentary Elections showed the highest abstention rate in Italianhistory (19.5%) up until that moment (a new record was set in 2013). Even though thisabstention rate might seem quite low in comparison with some other Western democracies,it has been steadily increasing over time. Furthermore, recent research shows that theintermittent non-vote is increasing as well. The voter’s individual decision on whether or notto vote depends on the circumstances at each election, taking into consideration the type ofelection, the quality of the candidates, and so forth. By employing an ecological inferencemethod on the Italian aggregate data, this paper assesses what happened in terms ofelectoral realignment and differential abstention. It also aims to find out which parties arenow gaining or losing support from non-voters in the 2008 Parliamentary Italian elections.
    Date: 2014–12–01
  4. By: Prato, Carlo; Wolton, Stephane
    Abstract: This paper studies how voters' demand for reform affects the probability that economic reforms are adopted and, conditional on being adopted, their quality. We consider a model of electoral competition with rationally inattentive voters in which the success of policy changes is tied to a politician's unobservable competence. We show that when the demand for reform is high, the electoral process becomes over-responsive: Candidates promise reforms despite their inability to carry-out welfare-improving policy changes. As voters must then choose between potentially harmful reforms or no reform, high demand for reform tends to be associated with lower probability of reform and/or lower quality of reform. We explain how our results help organize the mixed evidence regarding the impact of crises on the likelihood of reform.
    Keywords: Crises ; Reforms ; Rationally Ignorant Voters ; Campaigns
    JEL: D70 D72 D78 D83
    Date: 2013–03–16
  5. By: Prato, Carlo; Wolton, Stephane
    Abstract: This paper studies the consequences for the electoral process of reputational and partisan imbalance; that is, asymmetries in voters' evaluations of candidates' quality (for example, due to incumbency) and of party labels (for example, due to ideology). Our theory is predicated on the notion that voters are ``rationally ignorant'' as they face cognitive constraints on their ability to acquire and process political information. Our model rationalizes key empirical regularities identified in the literature: the strong effect of incumbency on electoral outcomes, the existence of an incumbency spending advantage, as well as the moderate electoral impact of partisan redistricting. We explain why current methods used to identify the sources of the incumbency advantage are likely to produce biased estimates, and suggest ways to resolve this issue. We also highlight how campaign finance reforms should be precisely tailored to the type and level of imbalance they are meant to address.
    Keywords: Elections; Attention; Imbalance; Reputation; Incumbency Advantage; Partisanship
    JEL: D70 D72 D78 D83
    Date: 2014–03–26
  6. By: Wolton, Stephane
    Abstract: Scholars have long recognized two classes of special interest group (SIG) expenditures: inside lobbying, which is intended to influence the content of a bill; and outside lobbying, which is intended to influence the likelihood a bill is enacted into law. This paper juxtaposes both lobbying activities within a single model. Policy choices are a function of the decision-maker's assessment of SIGs' willingness to engage in outside lobbying. Importantly, inside lobbying expenditures do not always reflect SIGs' outside lobbying capacities and therefore cannot adequately measure SIG influence. Consequently, empirical studies of SIG influence which exclusively consider inside lobbying expenditures--as nearly all existing tests do--are likely to produce spurious results. The paper highlights that strong SIG influence is consistent with a small effect of inside lobbying expenditures on policy choice.
    Keywords: interest groups ; influence ; contributions ; lobbying ; issue advocacy
    JEL: D70 D72 D78 D83
    Date: 2016–01–02
  7. By: Anna A. Dekalchuk (National Research University Higher School of Economics)
    Abstract: By studying the process of reform of the Schengen acquis in 2011-2013 inspired by the Arab Spring and the inflow of migrants to the Mediterranean shores of the European Union, in this paper I seek to show how policy entrepreneurs exploit windows of opportunity that open following an external shock (a notion I use to conceptualise the events of the Arab Spring) in order to fulfill their own preferences, regardless of the substance of the external shock in question. How could it happen that the reform initiated by Italy and France in 2011 to “re-nationalise the Schengen” would in the end turn just the opposite of what they sought to achieve? My research suggests that the major factor which helps explain this is the institutional standing of the European Commission which holds exclusive right of legislative initiative, and the fact that by using its position, the Commission was able to win over the European Parliament to its side by effectively making it into a veto-player in its negotiations with the EU Council, thus trapping the Member States into the “joint decision trap”
    Keywords: Schengen, EU reforms, European Commission, Arab Spring, external shocks, policy entrepreneurs, joint-decision trap.
    JEL: F55
    Date: 2015
  8. By: Laurent Bouton (Georgetown University, Université Libre de Bruxelles, CEPR and NBER); Micael Castanheira (Université Libre de Bruxelles, FNRS and CEPR); Aniol Llorente-Saguer (Queen Mary University of London)
    Abstract: We propose a theory-based experimental approach to compare the properties of <i>approval voting</i> (AV) with those of <i>plurality</i>. This comparison is motivated by the theoretical predictions that, in our aggregate uncertainty setup, AV should produce close to first-best outcomes, while plurality will not. The experiment shows, first, that welfare gains are substantial. Second, both aggregate and individual responses are in line with theoretical predictions, and thus with strategic voting. Finally, subjects' behavior under AV highlights the need to study equilibria in asymmetric strategies.
    Keywords: Multicandidate elections, Information aggregation, Plurality, Approval Voting, Laboratory experiments
    JEL: C72 C92 D70
    Date: 2015–12
  9. By: Adrian Bruhin (University of Lausanne); Ernst Fehr (University of Zurich); Daniel Schunk (Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz)
    Abstract: There is vast heterogeneity in the human willingness to weigh others’ interests in decision making. This heterogeneity concerns the motivational intricacies as well as the strength of other-regarding behaviors, and raises the question how one can parsimoniously model and characterize heterogeneity across several dimensions of social preferences while still being able to predict behavior over time and across situations. We tackle this task with an experiment and a structural model of preferences that allows us to simultaneously estimate outcome-based and reciprocity-based social preferences. We find that non-selfish preferences are the rule rather than the exception. Neither at the level of the representative agent nor when we allow for several preference types do purely selfish types emerge. Instead, three temporally stable and qualitatively different other-regarding types emerge endogenously, i.e., without pre-specifying assumptions about the characteristics of types. When ahead, all three types value others’ payoffs significantly more than when behind. The first type, which we denote as strongly altruistic type, is characterized by a relatively large weight on others’ payoffs – even when behind – and moderate levels of reciprocity. The second type, denoted as moderately altruistic type, also puts positive weight on others’ payoff, yet at a considerable lower level, and displays no positive reciprocity while the third type is behindness averse, i.e., puts a large negative weight on others’ payoffs when behind and behaves selfishly otherwise. We also find that there is an unambiguous and temporally stable assignment of individuals to types. Moreover, the three-type model substantially improves the (out-of-sample) predictions of individuals’ behavior across additional games while the information contained in subject-specific parameter estimates leads to no or only minor additional predictive power. This suggests that a parsimonious model with three types captures the bulk of the predictive power contained in the preference estimates.
    Keywords: Social Preferences, Heterogeneity, Stability, Finite Mixture Models
    JEL: C49 C91 D03
    Date: 2016–01–04
  10. By: Fehrler, Sebastian (University of Konstanz and IZA); Hughes, Niall (Department of Economics, University of Warwick)
    Abstract: We investigate the potential of transparency to influence committee decisionmaking.We present a model in which career concerned committee members receive private information of different type-dependent accuracy, deliberate and vote. We study three levels of transparency under which career concerns are predicted to affect behavior differently, and test the model’s key predictions in a laboratory experiment. The model’s predictions are largely borne out - transparency negatively affects information aggregation at the deliberation and voting stages, leading to sharply different committee error rates than under secrecy. This occurs despite subjects revealing more information under transparency than theory predicts.
    Keywords: Committee Decision-Making ; Deliberation ; Transparency ; Career Concerns ; Information Aggregation ; Experiments ; Voting ; Strategic Communication
    JEL: C92 D71 D83
    Date: 2015

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