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Efficiency, Equity, and Timing in Voting Mechanisms

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  • Marco Battaglini

    (Princeton University)

  • Rebecca Morton

    (New York University)

  • Thomas Palfrey

    (Princeton University)

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    Abstract

    We compare the behavior of voters, depending on whether they operate under sequential and simultaneous voting rules, when voting is costly and information is incomplete. In many real political institutions, ranging from small committees to mass elections, voting is sequential, which allows some voters to know the choices of earlier voters. For a styl- ized model, we characterize the equilibria for this rule, and compare it to simultaneous voting, and show how these equilibria vary for di¤erent voting costs. This generates a variety of predictions about the relative e¢ ciency and equity of these two systems, which we test using controlled laboratory experiments. Most of the qualitative predictions are supported by the data, but there are signi?cant departures from the predicted equilib- rium strategies, in both the sequential and sumultanous voting games. We ?nd a tradeo¤ between information aggregation, e¢ ciency, and equity in sequential voting: a sequential voting rule aggregates information better, and produces more e¢ cient outcomes on aver- age, compared to simultaneous voting, but sequential voting leads to signi?cant inequities, with later voters ben?tting at the expense of early voters.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies. in its series Working Papers with number 81.

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    Date of creation: Sep 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:pri:cepsud:121palfrey

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    1. Battaglini, Marco, 2005. "Sequential voting with abstention," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 445-463, May.
    2. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    3. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2007. "Deliberative voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 317-338, May.
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