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

Author

Listed:
  • Salvador Barbera

    (CODE, Departament d’Economia i d'Historia Economica, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

  • Matthew O. Jackson

    (Division of Humanities and Social Sciences, California Institute of Technology)

Abstract

Consider a voting procedure where countries, states, or districts comprising a union each elect representatives who then participate in later votes at the union level on their behalf. The countries, provinces, and states may vary in their populations and composition. If we wish to maximize the total expected utility of all agents in the union, how to weight the votes of the representatives of the different countries, states or districts at the union level? We provide a simple characterization of the efficient voting rule in terms of the weights assigned to different districts and the voting threshold (how large a qualified majority is needed to induce change versus the status quo). Next, in the context of a model of the correlation structure of agents preferences, we analyze how voting weights relate to the population size of a country. We then analyze the voting weights in Council of the European Union under the Nice Treaty and the recently proposed constitution, and contrast them under different versions of our model, and compare them to the weights derived from poll data.

Suggested Citation

  • Salvador Barbera & Matthew O. Jackson, 2004. "On the Weights of Nations: Assigning Voting Weights in a Heterogeneous Union," Working Papers 2004.76, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  • Handle: RePEc:fem:femwpa:2004.76
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Annick Laruelle & Federico Valenciano, 2005. "Assessing success and decisiveness in voting situations," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 24(1), pages 171-197, January.
    2. Laruelle, Annick & Widgren, Mika, 1998. "Is the Allocation of Voting Power among EU States Fair?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 94(3-4), pages 317-339, March.
    3. Bård Harstad, 2007. "Harmonization and Side Payments in Political Cooperation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 871-889, June.
    4. Salvador Barbera & Matthew O. Jackson, 2002. "Choosing How to Choose: Self Stable Majority Rules," Microeconomics 0211003, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Bård Harstad, 2005. "Majority Rules and Incentives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1535-1568.
    6. 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.
    7. Claus Beisbart & Luc Bovens & Stephan Hartmann, 2005. "A Utilitarian Assessment of Alternative Decision Rules in the Council of Ministers," European Union Politics, , vol. 6(4), pages 395-418, December.
    8. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 2003. "Incomplete Social Contracts," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 38-67, March.
    9. 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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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Majority rule; Voting; Weighted voting; European Union;

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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