nep-cdm New Economics Papers
on Collective Decision-Making
Issue of 2022‒09‒19
four papers chosen by
Stan C. Weeber, McNeese State University

  1. An approach to generalizing some impossibility theorems in social choice By Wesley H. Holliday; Eric Pacuit; Saam Zahedian
  2. Pandora's Ballot Box: Electoral Politics of Direct Democracy By Peter Buisseret; Richard Van Weelden
  3. How Should We Think About Employers’ Associations? By Bryson, Alex; Willman, Paul
  4. Do STEM Students Vote? By Bell, D’Wayne; Feng, Jing; Holbein, John B.; Smith, Jonathan

  1. By: Wesley H. Holliday; Eric Pacuit; Saam Zahedian
    Abstract: In social choice theory, voting methods can be classified by invariance properties: a voting method is said to be C1 if it selects the same winners for any two profiles of voter preferences that produce the same majority graph on the set of candidates; a voting method is said to be pairwise if it selects the same winners for any two preference profiles that produce the same weighted majority graph on the set of candidates; and other intermediate classifications are possible. As there are far fewer majority graphs or weighted majority graphs than there are preference profiles (for a bounded number of candidates and voters), computer-aided techniques such as satisfiability solving become practical for proving results about C1 and pairwise methods. In this paper, we develop an approach to generalizing impossibility theorems proved for C1 or pairwise voting methods to impossibility theorems covering all voting methods. We apply this approach to impossibility theorems involving "variable candidate" axioms--in particular, social choice versions of Sen's well-known $\gamma$ and $\alpha$ axioms for individual choice--which concern what happens when a candidate is added or removed from an election. A key tool is a construction of preference profiles from majority graphs and weighted majority graphs that differs from the classic constructions of McGarvey and Debord, especially in better commutative behavior with respect to other operations on profiles.
    Date: 2022–08
  2. By: Peter Buisseret; Richard Van Weelden
    Abstract: We study how office-seeking parties use direct democracy to shape elections. A party with a strong electoral base can benefit from using a binding referendum to resolve issues that divide its core supporters. When referendums do not bind, however, an electorally disadvantaged party may initiate a referendum to elevate new issues in order to divide the supporters of its stronger opponent. We identify conditions under which direct democracy improves congruence between policy outcomes and voter preferences, but also show that it can lead to greater misalignment both on issues subject to direct democracy and those that are not.
    Date: 2022–08
  3. By: Bryson, Alex (University College London); Willman, Paul (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: We maintain that employer associations are a specific form of employer collusion that is overt, formal and labour market focused which encompasses but is by no means confined to collective bargaining. We consider the conditions under which this form of collusion might emerge, and how it might develop. Since the context is the decline of employers’ associations in collective bargaining, we look at how collective bargaining involvement (and its disappearance) might relate to the growth or decline of other forms of collusion in areas such as product and financial markets, and political influence. Our central contention is that employers’ associations continue to perform an important role in helping employers set the terms of trade, albeit one that has adapted to the demise of sectoral bargaining.
    Keywords: employers’ associations, collusion, collective bargaining
    JEL: J50 J52
    Date: 2022–07
  4. By: Bell, D’Wayne (Harvard University); Feng, Jing; Holbein, John B. (University of Virginia); Smith, Jonathan (Georgia State University)
    Abstract: For decades, pundits, politicians, college administrators, and academics have lamented the dismal rates of civic engagement among students who enroll in courses and eventually major in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (i.e., STEM) fields. However, the research supporting this conclusion has faced distinct challenges in terms of data quality. Does STEM actually decrease the odds that young people will be actively involved in democracy? This paper assesses the relationship between studying STEM and voting. To do so, we create a dataset of over 23 million students in the U.S. matched to national validated voting records. The novel dataset is the largest known individual-level dataset in the U.S. connecting high school and college students to voting outcomes. It also contains a rich set of demographic and academic variables, to account for many of the common issues related to students' selection into STEM coursework. We consider two measures of STEM participation—Advanced Placement (AP) Exam taking in high school and college major. Using both measures, we find that, unconditionally, STEM students are slightly more likely to vote than their non-STEM peers. After including the rich set of controls, the sign reverses and STEM students are slightly less likely to vote than their non-STEM peers. However, these estimated relationships between STEM and voting are small in magnitude—about the same effect size as a single get-out-the-vote mailer—and we can rule out even very modest causal effects of marginally more STEM coursework on voting for the typical STEM student. We cannot rule out modest effects for a few subfields. Our analyses demonstrate that, on average, marginally more STEM coursework in high school and college does not contribute to the dismally low participation rates among young people in the U.S.
    Keywords: youth voting, education, college, STEM, large-scale administrative data
    JEL: I21 I23 D72
    Date: 2022–08

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