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Divided Majority and Information Aggregation: Theory and Experiment

  • Laurent Bouton
  • Micael Castanheira De Moura
  • A. Llorente-Saguer

This paper both theoretically and experimentally studies the properties of plurality and approval voting when the majority is divided as a result of information imperfections. The minority backs a third alternative, which the majority views as strictly inferior. The majority thus faces two problems: aggregating information and coordinating to defeat the minority candidate. Two types of equilibria coexist under plurality: either voters aggregate information, but this requires splitting their votes, or they coordinate but cannot aggregate information. With approval voting, expected welfare is strictly higher, because some voters multiple vote to achieve both goals at once. In the laboratory, we observe both types of equilibrium under plurality. Which one is selected depends on the size of the minority. Approval voting vastly outperforms plurality. Finally, subject behavior suggests the need to study asymmetric equilibria.

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Paper provided by ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles in its series ULB Institutional Repository with number 2013/136800.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Publication status: Published in: Discussion paper series - Centre for Economic Policy Research (2012)
Handle: RePEc:ulb:ulbeco:2013/136800
Contact details of provider: Postal: CP135, 50, avenue F.D. Roosevelt, 1050 Bruxelles
Web page: http://difusion.ulb.ac.be

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