nep-cdm New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2016‒02‒29
seven papers chosen by
Stan C. Weeber, McNeese State University

  1. The cyclical social choice of primary vs. general election candidates: A note on the US 2016 presidential election By Kurrild-Klitgaard, Peter
  2. Voting on Embryonic Stem Cell Research: Citizens More Supportive than Politicians By David Stadelmann; Benno Torgler
  3. Endogenous correlated network dynamics By Rui Gong; Frank Page; Myrna Wooders
  4. Local Government Proliferation, Diversity, and Conflict By Samuel Bazzi; Matthew Gudgeon
  5. Political Institutions and Preference Evolution By WU, JIABIN
  6. A model of belief influence in large social networks By Antonio Jiménez-Martínez
  7. Bread and bullets By Akerlof, George A.; Snower, Dennis J.

  1. By: Kurrild-Klitgaard, Peter
    Abstract: The manner in which US presidential elections are organized make them ripe for empirical manifestations of the “voting paradoxes” identified by social choice theorists. This note illustrates the general point with polling data involving the two leading Democrats and the three leading Republicans at the beginning of the 2016 presidential primaries, suggesting that all five candidates may be alternatives in one or more cyclical majorities, i.e., where no candidate cannot be beaten by at least one other candidate.
    Keywords: Social choice; Condorcet paradox; Borda paradox; US presidential election 2016; Hillary Clinton; Bernard Sanders; Donald Trump; Ted Cruz; Marco Rubio.
    JEL: D7 D71 D72
    Date: 2016–02–01
  2. By: David Stadelmann; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: As the public debate over stem cell research continues, the observable voting behaviour in Switzerland offers a unique opportunity to compare the voting behaviour of politicians with that of voters. In this paper, by analysing the outcomes of a referendum on a liberal new bill regulating such research, we reveal an almost 10 percentage point lower probability of the bill being accepted by politicians than by a representative sample of voters. Whereas the politicians’ behaviour is driven almost entirely by party affiliation, citizen votes are driven not only by party attachment but also by church attendance. Seldom or never attending church increases the probability of bill acceptance by over 23 percentage points, while supporting the Christian Democratic Party makes supporting the bill less likely for voters, suggesting that religious observance is important. The observance of these tendencies in Switzerland – an environment that promotes discussion through direct democratic rights – strongly suggests that citizens see the benefits of stem cell research.
    Keywords: Representation; Stem Cells; Innovation
    JEL: D72 I10
    Date: 2016–01
  3. By: Rui Gong; Frank Page; Myrna Wooders
    Abstract: We model the structure and strategy of social interactions prevailing at any point in time as a directed network and we address the following open question in the theory of social and economic network formation: given the rules of network and coalition formation, preferences of individuals over networks, strategic behavior of coalitions in forming networks, and the trembles of nature, what network and coalitional dynamics are likely to emerge and persist. Our main contributions are to formulate the problem of network and coalition formation as a dynamic, stochastic game and to show that: (i) the game possesses a correlated stationary Markov equilibrium (in network and coalition formation strategies), (ii) together with the trembles of nature, this correlated stationary equilibrium determines an equilibrium Markov process of network and coalition formation, and (iii) this endogenous Markov process possesses a finite set of ergodic measures, and generates a finite, disjoint collection of nonempty subsets of networks and coalitions, each constituting a basin of attraction. Moreover, we extend to the setting of endogenous Markov dynamics the notions of pairwise stability (Jackson-Wolinsky, 1996) and the path dominance core (Page-Wooders, 2009a). We show that in order for any network-coalition pair to emerge and persist, it is necessary that the pair reside in one of finitely many basins of attraction. The results we obtain here for endogenous network dynamics and stochastic basins of attraction are the dynamic analogs of our earlier results on endogenous network formation and strategic basins of attraction in static, abstract games of network formation (Page and Wooders, 2009a), and build on the seminal contributions of Jackson and Watts (2002), Konishi and Ray (2003), and Dutta, Ghosal, and Ray (2005).
    Keywords: endogenous network dynamics; dynamic stochastic games of network formation; stationary Markov correlated equilibrium; equilibrium Markov process of network formation; basins of attraction; Harris decomposition; ergodic probability measures; dynamic path dominance core; dynamic pairwise stability
    JEL: A14 C71 C72
    Date: 2015–06
  4. By: Samuel Bazzi (Boston University and BREAD); Matthew Gudgeon (Boston University)
    Abstract: A key feature of decentralization in developing countries has been the creation of new local governments. The implications of this process for violent conflict are not well understood. On the one hand, bringing representative government closer to the electorate can reduce heterogeneity in preferences, thereby mitigating conflict. On the other hand, creating local government institutions also leads to a large increase in rents that may be contested violently. Group cleavages can determine which of these two effects prevails. Identifying these distinct channels empirically has proven difficult. This paper resolves these challenges by exploiting a natural experiment in the ethnically and religiously diverse context of post-authoritarian Indonesia where rapid decentralization was accompanied by dramatic growth in the number of new districts and a resulting decline in ethnolinguistic fractionalization. We use new microdata on conflict from 2000–2014 and leverage the plausibly exogenous timing of redistricting due to a government moratorium. Overall, redistricting has small and insignificant average effects on conflict. However, areas that experience greater ethnolinguistic and religious homogenization as a result of splitting experience a significant reduction in conflict. At the same time, we find a differential increase in violence in areas that receive a new government and are also ethnically polarized. These differential increases in violence are most pronounced around the time of the first election and for types of violence associated with contestation of public resources and institutions. These results suggest that allowing for redistricting along group lines can reduce conflict, but the benefits of reduced diversity may be undone if the newly governed population is highly polarized. In such cases, conflict may then simply shift from the original seats of government to newly created ones.
    Keywords: Conflict, Polarization, Ethnic Diversity, Decentralization
    JEL: D72 D74 H41 H77 O13 Q34
    Date: 2015–12
  5. By: WU, JIABIN
    Abstract: This paper argues that political institutions play an important role in shaping the evolutionary trajectory of preferences. We consider a population with two preference groups. A political institution provides the platform and a set of rules for the two groups to battle over the relative representativeness of their preference traits for the high positions in the social hierarchy. This political process affects the economic outcomes of the two groups, subsequently the intergenerational transmission of preferences. We study how conducive different political institutions are to spreading preference traits that induce better economic outcomes. We find that any preference trait can be prevalent under "exclusive" political institutions. Therefore, a society can be trapped in a state in which preference traits associated with unfavorable economic outcomes persist. On the other hand, preference evolution under "inclusive" political institutions has stronger selection power and only the preference traits that result in the largest comparative advantage in holding a high position can be prevalent.
    Keywords: Preference evolution, Political institutions, Evolutionary Game Theory
    JEL: C72 C73 D72 Z10 Z13
    Date: 2016–02–18
  6. By: Antonio Jiménez-Martínez (Division of Economics, CIDE)
    Abstract: This paper develops a model of evolution of beliefs through communication in an exogenous social network. We assume that the agents are Bayesian updaters and that the network enables them to listen to the opinion of others about some uncertain parameter of interest. We explore the effects of the network on the agents' long-run first-order beliefs about the parameter and investigate the aggregation of private information in large societies. Each agent observes private signals about the value of the unknown parameter and, according to his connections in the network, receives private messages from others as well. A message conveys some information about the signal observed by the sender and about the messages that the sender receives from other indirectly connected agents. The informativeness of a message is not strategically chosen but it is exogenously given by the intensity of the connection. Both signals and messages are independent and identically distributed across time but not necessarily across agents. We first characterize the long-run behavior of an agent's beliefs in terms of some entropy-based measures of the conditional distributions of signals and messages available to the agent. Then, we show that the achievement of a consensus in the society is closely related to the presence of prominent agents who are able to change the evolution of other agents' opinions over time. Finally, we show that the influence of the prominent agents must not be very high in order for the agents to aggregate correctly their private sources of information in the long-run.
    Keywords: Communication networks, Bayesian updating, private signals, private messages, consensus, correct limiting beliefs
    JEL: D82 D83 D85
    Date: 2014–04
  7. By: Akerlof, George A.; Snower, Dennis J.
    Abstract: Standard economics omits the role of narratives (the stories that people tell themselves and others) when they make all kinds of decisions. Narratives play a role in understanding the environment; focusing attention; predicting events; motivating action; assigning social roles and identities; defining power relations; and establishing and conveying social norms. This paper describes the role narratives play in decision making, as it also juxtaposes this description against the backdrop of the Bolshevik-spawned narrative that played a critical role in the history of Russia and the Soviet Union in the 20th Century.
    Keywords: narrative,motivation,attention,prediction,identity,social assignment
    JEL: A12 A13 A14 D03 D04 D20 D23 D30 D62 D71 D72 D74 E02
    Date: 2016

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