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Deliberation and Voting Rules

In: Social Choice and Strategic Decisions


  • David Austen-Smith

    (Northwestern University)

  • Timothy Feddersen

    (Northwestern University)


Summary We analyze a formal model of decision-making by a deliberative committee. There is a given binary agenda. Individuals evaluate the two alternatives on both private and common interest grounds. Each individual has two sorts of private information going into committee: (a) perfect information about their personal bias and (b) noisy information about which alternative is best with respect to a (commonly held) normative criterion. Prior to a committee vote to choose an alternative, committee members engage in deliberation, modeled as a simultaneous cheap-talk game. We explore and compare equilibrium properties under majority and unanimity voting rules, paying particular attention to the character of debate (who influences who and how) and quality of the decision in each instance. On balance, majority rule induces more information sharing and fewer decision-making errors than unanimity. Furthermore, the influence and character of deliberation per se can vary more under majority rule than under unanimity.

Suggested Citation

  • David Austen-Smith & Timothy Feddersen, 2005. "Deliberation and Voting Rules," Studies in Choice and Welfare, in: David Austen-Smith & John Duggan (ed.), Social Choice and Strategic Decisions, pages 269-316, Springer.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:stcchp:978-3-540-27295-3_11
    DOI: 10.1007/3-540-27295-X_11

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