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On the optimal number of representatives

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  • Emmanuelle Auriol
  • Robert Gary-Bobo

Abstract

We propose a normative theory of the number of representatives based on a model of a representative democracy. We derive a formula giving the number of representatives as proportional to the square root of total population. Simple tests of the formula on a sample of a 100 countries yield good results. We then discuss the appropriateness of the number of representatives in some countries. It seems that the United States has 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 and barriers to entrepreneurship. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert Gary-Bobo, 2012. "On the optimal number of representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(3), pages 419-445, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:153:y:2012:i:3:p:419-445
    DOI: 10.1007/s11127-011-9801-3
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    Cited by:

    1. Malik Magdon-Ismail & Lirong Xia, 2018. "A Mathematical Model for Optimal Decisions in a Representative Democracy," Papers 1807.06157, arXiv.org.
    2. Piolatto, Amedeo, 2011. "Plurality versus proportional electoral rule: Which is most representative of voters?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 27(2), pages 311-327, June.
    3. 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.
    4. Dino Gerardi & Leeat Yariv, 2003. "Committee Design in the Presence of Communication," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1411, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert Gary-Bobo, 2012. "On the optimal number of representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(3), pages 419-445, December.
    6. Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert Gary-Bobo, 2007. "On Robust Constitution Design," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 62(3), pages 241-279, May.
    7. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2008. "Information acquisition in committees," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 62(2), pages 436-459, March.
    8. Andreas Bergh & Günther Fink & Richard Öhrvall, 2017. "More politicians, more corruption: evidence from Swedish municipalities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 172(3), pages 483-500, September.
    9. Raphael Godefroy & Nicolas Klein, 2018. "Parliament Shapes And Sizes," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 56(4), pages 2212-2233, October.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Representative democracy; Number of representatives; Constitution design; Incentives; D7; H11; H40;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H11 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • H40 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - General

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