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Flexible Majority Rules


  • Ulrich Erlenmaier
  • Hans Gersbach


In this paper we introduce flexible majority decision rules where the size of the majority depends on the proposal made by the agenda setter. Flexible majority rules can mitigate the disadvantages of democracies in the provision of public projects. In many cases, the combination of the principles taxation constraint to majority winners, a ban on subsidies, costly agenda setting and flexible majority rules constitute a socially optimal democratic constitution. Flexible majority rules might also be a useful decision-making procedure in other circumstances.

Suggested Citation

  • Ulrich Erlenmaier & Hans Gersbach, 2001. "Flexible Majority Rules," CESifo Working Paper Series 464, CESifo Group Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_464

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Piketty, Thomas, 1999. "The information-aggregation approach to political institutions," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 791-800, April.
    2. Salvador Barbera & Matthew O. Jackson, 2002. "Choosing How to Choose: Self Stable Majority Rules," Microeconomics 0211003, EconWPA.
    3. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
    4. Salvador Barbera & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "Choosing How to Choose: Self-Stable Majority Rules and Constitutions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(3), pages 1011-1048.
    5. Myerson, Roger B., 1998. "Extended Poisson Games and the Condorcet Jury Theorem," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 111-131, October.
    6. Laffont, Jean-Jacques, 1996. "Industrial policy and politics," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 14(1), pages 1-27.
    7. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    8. repec:cup:apsrev:v:90:y:1996:i:01:p:34-45_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. J. A. Mirrlees, 1971. "An Exploration in the Theory of Optimum Income Taxation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(2), pages 175-208.
    10. Guttman, Joel M., 1998. "Unanimity and majority rule: the calculus of consent reconsidered," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 14(2), pages 189-207, May.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hans Gersbach, 2002. "Democratic Mechanisms: Double Majority Rules and Flexible Agenda Costs," CESifo Working Paper Series 749, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Hans Gersbach, 2011. "On the limits of democracy," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 37(2), pages 201-217, July.
    3. Bard Harstad, 2006. "Flexible Integration," Discussion Papers 1428, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    4. Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert Gary-Bobo, 2012. "On the optimal number of representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(3), pages 419-445, December.
    5. Christopher Cotton, 2010. "Dynamic Legislative Bargaining with Endogenous Agenda Setting Authority," Working Papers 2010-20, University of Miami, Department of Economics.
    6. Gersbach, Hans & Siemers, Lars, 2005. "Can Democracy Educate a Society?," IZA Discussion Papers 1693, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 2003. "Incomplete Social Contracts," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 38-67, March.
    8. Becker, Johannes Gerd & Gersbach, Hans & Grimm, Oliver, 2010. "Debt-sensitive Majority Rules," CEPR Discussion Papers 7860, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.


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