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The Option to Wait in Collective Decisions

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  • Matthias Messner
  • Mattias K. Polborn

Abstract

We consider a model in which voters over time receive more information about their preferences concerning an irreversible social decision. Voters can either implement the project in the first period, or they can postpone the decision to the second period. We analyze the effects of different majority rules. Individual first period voting behavior may become "less conservative" under supermajority rules, and it is even possible that a project is implemented in the first period under a supermajority rule that would not be implemented under simple majority rule. We characterize the optimal majority rule, which is a supermajority rule. In contrast to individual investment problems, society may be better off if the option to postpone the decision did not exist. These results are qualitatively robust to natural generalizations of our model.

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Paper provided by IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University in its series Working Papers with number 338.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:338

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  1. Matthias Messner & Mattias K. Polborn, 2004. "Voting on Majority Rules," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71(1), pages 115-132, 01.
  2. Tullock, Gordon, 1998. "Reply to Guttman," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 215-218, May.
  3. Philip Bond & Hulya Eraslan, 2008. "Strategic Voting over Strategic Proposals," Economics Working Paper Archive 547, The Johns Hopkins University,Department of Economics.
  4. Roger B. Myerson & Daniel Diermeier, 1999. "Bicameralism and Its Consequences for the Internal Organization of Legislatures," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 89(5), pages 1182-1196, December.
  5. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 2003. "Incomplete Social Contracts," Scholarly Articles 4554123, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  6. Glazer, Amihai, 1989. "Politics and the Choice of Durability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(5), pages 1207-13, December.
  7. Caplin, Andrew S & Nalebuff, Barry J, 1988. "On 64%-Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 787-814, July.
  8. Guttman, Joel M., 1998. "Unanimity and majority rule: the calculus of consent reconsidered," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 189-207, May.
  9. Philip Bond & Hülya Eraslan, 2004. "Strategic Voting over Strategic Proposals, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-014, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 02 Jan 2007.
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Cited by:
  1. Bruno Strulovici, 2008. "Learning While Voting: Determinants of Collective Experimentation," Economics Series Working Papers 2008-WO8, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.

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