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On the Optimal Number of Representatives

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  • E. Auriol
  • R. Gary-Bobo

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 THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise in its series THEMA Working Papers with number 2000-01.

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Date of creation: 2000
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Handle: RePEc:ema:worpap:2000-01

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Cited by:
  1. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2007. "Information Acquisition in Committees," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University 1411R, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Piolatto, Amedeo, 2008. "Electoral systems and the distortion of voters' preferences," MPRA Paper 12610, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Jan 2009.
  3. Helge Berger & Volker Nitsch & Tonny Lybek, 2007. "Central Bank Boards around the World: Why does Membership Size Differ?," CESifo Working Paper Series 1897, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2003. "Committee Design in the Presence of Communication," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University 1411, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  5. Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert Gary-Bobo, 2007. "On Robust Constitution Design," Theory and Decision, Springer, Springer, vol. 62(3), pages 241-279, May.
  6. E. Auriol & R. Gary-Bobo, 2000. "On the Optimal Number of Representatives," THEMA Working Papers 2000-01, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.

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