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On the Optimal Number of Representatives

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  • Auriol, Emmanuelle
  • Gary-Bobo, Robert J.

Abstract

We propose a normative theory of the number of representatives based on a stylized model of a representative democracy. We derive a simple formula, a "square-root theory" which gives the number of representatives in parliament as proportional to the square root of total population. Simple econometric tests of the formula on a sample of a 100 countries yield surprisingly good results. These results provide a benchmark for a discussion of the appropriateness of the number of representatives in some countries. It seems that the United States have too few representatives, while France and Italy have too many. The excess number of representatives matters: it is positively correlated with indicators of red tape, barriers to entrepreneurship and perceived corruption.

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Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 6417.

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Date of creation: Aug 2007
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:6417

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Keywords: Constitution Design; Incentives; Number of Representatives; Representative Democracy;

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Cited by:
  1. Piolatto, Amedeo, 2011. "Plurality versus proportional electoral rule: Which is most representative of voters?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 311-327, June.
  2. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Gary-Bobo, Robert J., 2007. "On the Optimal Number of Representatives," CEPR Discussion Papers 6417, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert Gary-Bobo, 2007. "On Robust Constitution Design," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 62(3), pages 241-279, May.
  4. Berger, Helge & Nitsch, Volker & Lybek, Tonny, 2008. "Central bank boards around the world: Why does membership size differ?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 817-832, December.
  5. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2003. "Committee Design in the Presence of Communication," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1411, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2007. "Information Acquisition in Committees," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1411R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.

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