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Optimal Voting Schemes with Costly Information Acquisition

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  • Alex Gershkov
  • Balazs Szentes

Abstract

A group of individuals with identical preferences must make a decision under uncertainty about which decision is best. Before the decision is made, each agent can privately acquire a costly and imperfect signal. We discuss how to design a mechanism for eliciting and aggregating the collected information so as to maximize ex-ante social welfare. We first show that, of all mechanisms, a sequential one is optimal and works as follows. At random, one agent at a time is selected to acquire information and report the resulting signal. Agents are informed of neither their position in the sequence nor of other reports. Acquiring information when called upon and reporting truthfully is an equilibrium. We next characterize the ex-ante optimal scheme among all ex-post efficient mechanisms. In this mechanism, a decision is made when the precision of the posterior exceeds a cut-off that decreases with each additional report. The restriction to ex-post efficiency is shown to be without loss when the available signals are sufficiently imprecise. On the other hand, ex-post efficient mechanisms are shown to be suboptimal when the cost of information acquisition is sufficiently small.

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Paper provided by www.najecon.org in its series NajEcon Working Paper Reviews with number 122247000000000311.

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Date of creation: 20 Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:cla:najeco:122247000000000311

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  1. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2007. "Information Acquisition in Committees," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1411R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Hao Li, 2001. "A Theory of Conservatism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 109(3), pages 617-636, June.
  3. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1994. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Discussion Papers 1117, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  4. César Martinelli, 2004. "Would Rational Voters Acquire Costly Information?," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000000593, UCLA Department of Economics.
  5. Dirk Bergemann & Juuso Vaimaki, 2000. "Information Acquisition and Efficient Mechanism Design," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1248, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Timothy J. Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1995. "The Swing Voter's Curse," Discussion Papers 1064, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  7. Nicola Persico, 2004. "Committee Design with Endogenous Information," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 165-191, 01.
  8. Hao Li & Sherwin Rosen & Wing Suen, 1999. "Conflicts and Common Interests in Committees," NBER Working Papers 7158, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Nicola Persico, 2000. "Information Acquisition in Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 68(1), pages 135-148, January.
  10. Roger B. Myerson, 1984. "Multistage Games with Communication," Discussion Papers 590, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  11. McAfee, R Preston & Reny, Philip J, 1992. "Correlated Information and Mechanism Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 60(2), pages 395-421, March.
  12. Myerson, Roger B., 1982. "Optimal coordination mechanisms in generalized principal-agent problems," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(1), pages 67-81, June.
  13. Cremer, Jacques & McLean, Richard P, 1988. "Full Extraction of the Surplus in Bayesian and Dominant Strategy Auctions," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(6), pages 1247-57, November.
  14. Milgrom, Paul R, 1981. "Rational Expectations, Information Acquisition, and Competitive Bidding," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 921-43, June.
  15. Kaushik Mukhopadhaya, 2003. "Jury Size and the Free Rider Problem," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 19(1), pages 24-44, April.
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