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On the Weights of Nations: Assigning Voting Weights in a Heterogeneous Union

  • Salvador Barbera
  • Matthew O. Jackson

We study indirect democracy in which countries, states, or districts each elect a representative who later votes at a union level on their behalf. We show that the voting rule that maximizes the total expected utility of all agents in the union involves assigning a weight to each district's vote and then sticking with the status quo unless at least a threshold of weighted votes is cast for change. We analyze how the weights relate to the population size of a country and the correlation structure of agents' preferences, and then we compare the voting weights in the Council of the European Union under the Nice Treaty and the recently proposed Constitution.

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Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Political Economy.

Volume (Year): 114 (2006)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 317-339

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Handle: RePEc:ucp:jpolec:v:114:y:2006:i:2:p:317-339
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  1. Annick Laruelle & Federico Valenciano, 2005. "Assessing success and decisiveness in voting situations," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 24(1), pages 171-197, January.
  2. Salvador Barbera & Matthew O. Jackson, 2002. "Choosing How to Choose: Self Stable Majority Rules," Microeconomics 0211003, EconWPA.
  3. B�rd Harstad, 2005. "Majority Rules and Incentives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1535-1568, November.
  4. Aghion, Philippe & Bolton, Patrick, 2003. "Incomplete Social Contracts," Scholarly Articles 4554123, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  5. Bård Harstad, 2007. "Harmonization and Side Payments in Political Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 871-889, June.
  6. Laruelle, Annick & Widgren, Mika, 1998. " Is the Allocation of Voting Power among EU States Fair?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3-4), pages 317-39, March.
  7. Felsenthal, Dan S. & Machover, Moshe, 1999. "Minimizing the mean majority deficit: The second square-root rule," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 25-37, January.
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