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Bargaining Foundations of the Median Voter Theorem

We provide game-theoretic foundations for the median voter theorem in a one-dimensional bargaining model based on Baron and Ferejohn’s (1989) model of distributive politics. We prove that, as the agents become arbitrarily patient, the set of proposals that can be passed in any subgame perfect equilibrium collapses to the median voter’s ideal point. While we leave the possibility of some delay, we prove that the agents’ equilibrium continuation payoffs converge to the utility from the median, so that delay, if it occurs, is inconsequential. We do not impose stationarity or any other refinements. Our result counters intuition based on the folk theorem for repeated games, and it contrasts with the known result for the distributive bargaining model that, as agents become patient, any division of the dollar can be supported as a subgame perfect equilibrium outcome.

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File URL: http://www.wallis.rochester.edu/WallisPapers/wallis_49.pdf
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Paper provided by University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy in its series Wallis Working Papers with number WP49.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:roc:wallis:wp49
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University of Rochester, Wallis Institute, Harkness 109B Rochester, New York 14627 U.S.A.

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  1. Cho, Seok-ju & Duggan, John, 2003. "Uniqueness of stationary equilibria in a one-dimensional model of bargaining," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 113(1), pages 118-130, November.
  2. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
  3. John Duggan & Mark Fey, . "Electoral Competition with Policy-Motivated Candidates," Wallis Working Papers WP19, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  4. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John & Le Breton, Michel, 2002. "Bounds for Mixed Strategy Equilibria and the Spatial Model of Elections," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 88-105, March.
  5. Eraslan, Hulya, 2002. "Uniqueness of Stationary Equilibrium Payoffs in the Baron-Ferejohn Model," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 11-30, March.
  6. Eraslan, H. & Merlo, A., 2000. "Majority Rule in a Stochastic Model of Bargaining," Working Papers 00-05, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  7. Roger Lagunoff & Akihiko Matsui, 1997. "Asynchronous Choice in Repeated Coordination Games," Game Theory and Information 9707002, EconWPA.
  8. Prajit K. Dutta, 1997. "A Folk Theorem for Stochastic Games," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1000, David K. Levine.
  9. Fudenberg, Drew & Maskin, Eric, 1986. "The Folk Theorem in Repeated Games with Discounting or with Incomplete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 54(3), pages 533-54, May.
  10. Moldovanu Benny & Winter Eyal, 1995. "Order Independent Equilibria," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 21-34, April.
  11. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1990. "The Role of Risk Preferences in Bargaining When Acceptance of a Proposal Requires Less than Unanimous Approval," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 135-54, June.
  12. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John, 2006. "A General Bargaining Model of Legislative Policy-making," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 1(1), pages 49-85, January.
  13. Baron David & Kalai Ehud, 1993. "The Simplest Equilibrium of a Majority-Rule Division Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 61(2), pages 290-301, December.
  14. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135.
  15. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John, 1999. "A Bargaining Model of Collective Choice," Working Papers 1053, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  16. Merlo, Antonio & Wilson, Charles A, 1995. "A Stochastic Model of Sequential Bargaining with Complete Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 63(2), pages 371-99, March.
  17. John Sutton, 1986. "Non-Cooperative Bargaining Theory: An Introduction," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(5), pages 709-724.
  18. Dutta Prajit K., 1995. "A Folk Theorem for Stochastic Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 1-32, June.
  19. David M. Primo, 2002. "Rethinking Political Bargaining: Policymaking with a Single Proposer," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(2), pages 411-427, October.
  20. Jackson, Matthew O. & Moselle, Boaz, 2002. "Coalition and Party Formation in a Legislative Voting Game," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 49-87, March.
  21. Thomas Romer & Howard Rosenthal, 1978. "Political resource allocation, controlled agendas, and the status quo," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 33(4), pages 27-43, December.
  22. Harrington, Joseph Jr., 1989. "The advantageous nature of risk aversion in a three-player bargaining game where acceptance of a proposal requires a simple majority," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 195-200, September.
  23. Harrington, Joseph E, Jr, 1990. "The Power of the Proposal Maker in a Model of Endogenous Agenda Formation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 64(1), pages 1-20, January.
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