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On the Optimal Number of Representatives

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  • E. Auriol
  • R. Gary-Bobo

Abstract

We study a model of public decision-making in simple public goods economies with moral hazards and adverse selection. Economic agents must invest resources (or provide effort) to discover their own preferences. We consider direct revelation mechanisms based on sampling. A sample of agents is drawn in the population, and each member of the sample reports a preferences type to a Principal. The determinants of the "representative sample" size are studied. The structure and magnitude of effort and sampling costs affects the optimal number of representatives. If the net social value of the effort is high, first and second best optimality require a maximal sample (or "direct democracy"). If, on the contrary, effort is too costly, the recourse to samples ("representative democracy") is justified as a second best. To obtain the results, we not only take effort and revelation incentives into account, but also restrict decision rules to satisfy an additional property of robustness to opportunistic manipulation by the Principal, which forbids the use of a priori knowledge in public decision procedures.

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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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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Gary-Bobo, Robert J., 2007. "On the Optimal Number of Representatives," CEPR Discussion Papers 6417, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Gary-Bobo, Robert J., 2002. "On Robust Constitution Design," CEPR Discussion Papers 3303, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Berger, Helge & Nitsch, Volker & Lybek, Tonny, 2008. "Central Bank boards around the world: why does membership size differ?," Discussion Papers 2008/5, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  4. 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.
  5. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2008. "Information acquisition in committees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 436-459, March.
  6. Amedeo Piolatto, 2009. "Plurality versus proportional electoral rule: study of voters' representativeness," Working Papers. Serie AD 2009-14, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

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