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On the Optimal Number of Representatives

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  • Auriol, Emmanuelle
  • Gary-Bobo, Robert

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 Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse in its series IDEI Working Papers with number 86.

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Date of creation: Mar 2008
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Publication status: Published in Public Choice, vol.�153, décembre 2012, p.�419-445.
Handle: RePEc:ide:wpaper:692

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2004. "Committee Design in the Presence of Communication," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm351, Yale School of Management.
  2. 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.
  3. Auriol, Emmanuelle & Gary-Bobo, Robert, 2001. "On Robust Constitution Design," IDEI Working Papers 136, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse, revised Aug 2006.
  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. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2008. "Information acquisition in committees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 436-459, March.
  6. Piolatto, Amedeo, 2008. "Electoral systems and the distortion of voters' preferences," MPRA Paper 12610, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Jan 2009.

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