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Instability of Collective Decisions? Testing for Cyclical Majorities


  • Stratmann, Thomas


The issues of cyclical majorities and instability of collective choices have been in the forefront in the discussion of social choice mechanisms. Cycling, lack of equilibria, and so called chaos theorems have been prevalent in the public choice literature. Whether cycling actually occurs in processes that are decided by majority rule has been a long-standing question. However, cycling has not been made quantifiable nor has it been clear how one would determine empirically whether majorities are cyclical. In this paper, cycling has been given an empirical meaning. This paper provides a method to test for cyclical majorities and applies it to decisions made in the US Congress. The test results indicate stability and the presence of persistent winners and losers in Congress. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Stratmann, Thomas, 1996. "Instability of Collective Decisions? Testing for Cyclical Majorities," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 88(1-2), pages 15-28, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:88:y:1996:i:1-2:p:15-28

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    Cited by:

    1. Wu, Jay Y., 2008. "A General Behavior Model and New Definitions of Organizational Cultures," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 37(6), pages 2535-2545, December.
    2. Congleton, Roger D. & Tollison, Robert D., 1999. "The stability inducing propensities of very unstable coalitions: avoiding the downward spiral of majoritarian rent-seeking," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(2), pages 193-205, June.
    3. DeBoer, Larry & McNamara, Kevin T. & Cranfield, John & Graham, Thea, 2000. "Legislator Influence and Public School Finance," The Review of Regional Studies, Southern Regional Science Association, vol. 30(2), pages 117-135, Fall.
    4. Dennis C. Mueller, 2016. "Gordon Tullock: economic gadfly," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 27(2), pages 112-123, June.
    5. Moser, Peter, 1999. "The impact of legislative institutions on public policy: a survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 1-33, March.
    6. Bradbury, John Charles & Crain, W. Mark, 2001. "Legislative organization and government spending: cross-country evidence," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 82(3), pages 309-325, December.

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