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The Informational Theory of Legislative Committees: An Experimental Analysis

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  • BATTAGLINI, MARCO
  • LAI, ERNEST K.
  • LIM, WOOYOUNG
  • WANG, JOSEPH TAO-YI

Abstract

We experimentally investigate the informational theory of legislative committees (Gilligan and Krehbiel 1989). Two committee members provide policy-relevant information to a legislature under alternative legislative rules. Under the open rule, the legislature is free to make any decision; under the closed rule, the legislature chooses between a member’s proposal and a status quo. We find that even in the presence of biases, the committee members improve the legislature’s decision by providing useful information. We obtain evidence for two additional predictions: the outlier principle, according to which more extreme biases reduce the extent of information transmission; and the distributional principle, according to which the open rule is more distributionally efficient than the closed rule. When biases are less extreme, we find that the distributional principle dominates the restrictive-rule principle, according to which the closed rule is more informationally efficient. Overall, our findings provide experimental support for Gilligan and Krehbiel’s informational theory.

Suggested Citation

  • Battaglini, Marco & Lai, Ernest K. & Lim, Wooyoung & Wang, Joseph Tao-Yi, 2019. "The Informational Theory of Legislative Committees: An Experimental Analysis," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 113(1), pages 55-76, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:113:y:2019:i:01:p:55-76_00
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lubensky, Dmitry & Schmidbauer, Eric, 2018. "Equilibrium informativeness in veto games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 109(C), pages 104-125.
    2. Marco Battaglini & Rebecca B. Morton & Eleonora Patacchini, 2020. "Social Groups and the Effectiveness of Protests," NBER Working Papers 26757, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Minozzi, William & Woon, Jonathan, 2019. "The limited value of a second opinion: Competition and exaggeration in experimental cheap talk games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 144-162.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C82 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Macroeconomic Data; Data Access
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness

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