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A Simple Scheme to Improve the Efficiency of Referenda

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  • Alessandra Casella
  • Andrew Gelman

Abstract

This paper proposes a simple scheme designed to elicit and reward intensity of preferences in referenda: voters faced with a number of binary proposals are given one regular vote for each proposal plus an additional number of bonus votes to cast as desired. Decisions are taken according to the majority of votes cast. In our base case, where there is no systematic difference between proposals' supporters and opponents, there is always a positive number of bonus votes such that ex ante utility is increased by the scheme, relative to simple majority voting. When the distributions of valuations of supporters and opponents differ, the improvement in efficiency is guaranteed only if the distributions can be ranked according to first order stochastic dominance. If they are, however, the existence of welfare gains is independent of the exact number of bonus votes.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 11375.

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Date of creation: May 2005
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Publication status: published as Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew, 2008. "A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2240-2261, October.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11375

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  1. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
  2. Alessandra Casella & Thomas Palfrey & Raymond Riezman, 2005. "Minorities and storable votes," Discussion Papers 0506-02, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  3. Alessandra Casella & Andrew Gelman, 2005. "A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda," Discussion Papers 0506-04, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  4. Alvin E. Roth, 2002. "The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1341-1378, July.
  5. Alessandra Casella & Andrew Gelman & Thomas R. Palfrey, 2003. "An experimental study of storable votes," Discussion Papers 0304-01, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  6. Howard Margolis, 1977. "Probability of a tie election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 135-138, September.
  7. Casella, Alessandra, 2002. "Storable Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 3508, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. Matthew O Jackson & Hugo F Sonnenschein, 2007. "Overcoming Incentive Constraints by Linking Decisions -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 241-257, 01.
  9. Rafael Hortala-Vallve, 2012. "Qualitative voting," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 24(4), pages 526-554, October.
  10. Matsusaka, John G, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-71, May.
  11. Ledyard, John O. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2000. "The Approximation of Efficient Public Good Mechanisms by Simple Voting Schemes," Working Papers 1092, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  12. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
  13. Steven J. Brams & William S. Zwicker & D. Marc Kilgour, 1998. "The paradox of multiple elections," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 15(2), pages 211-236.
  14. Taylor, Curtis & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Public Information and Electoral Bias," Working Papers 05-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  15. Chamberlain, Gary & Rothschild, Michael, 1981. "A note on the probability of casting a decisive vote," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 152-162, August.
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Cited by:
  1. Alessandra Casella & Andrew Gelman, 2005. "A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda," Discussion Papers 0506-04, Columbia University, Department of Economics.
  2. Kawamura, Kohei, 2013. "Eliciting information from a large population," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 44-54.
  3. Alessandra Casella, 2008. "Storable Votes and Agenda Order Control. Theory and Experiments," NBER Working Papers 14487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Francois Maniquet & Massimo Morelli, 2010. "Approval Quorums Dominate Participation Quorums," Economics Working Papers ECO2010/13, European University Institute.
  5. Colin Campbell, 2005. "Let Them Burn Money: Making Elections More Informative," Departmental Working Papers 200512, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
  6. Casella, Alessandra, 2011. "Agenda control as a cheap talk game: Theory and experiments with Storable Votes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 46-76, May.

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