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On the justice of voting systems

What are the best voting systems in terms of utilitarianism? Or in terms of maximin, or maximax? We study these questions for the case of three alternatives and a class of structurally equivalent voting rules. We show that plurality, arguably the most widely used voting system, performs very poorly in terms of remarkable ideals of justice, such as utilitarianism or maximin, and yet is optimal in terms of maximax. Utilitarianism is best approached by a voting system converging to the Borda count, while the best way to achieve maximin is by means of a voting system converging to negative voting. We study the robustness of our results across different social cultures, measures of performance, and population sizes.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra in its series Economics Working Papers with number 987.

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Date of creation: Nov 2006
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Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:987
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  1. Tilman Börgers & Peter Postl, 2008. "Efficient Compromising," Discussion Papers 06-11R, Department of Economics, University of Birmingham.
  2. Alessandro Lizzeri & Nicola Persico, . ""The Provision of Public Goods Under Alternative Electoral Incentives''," CARESS Working Papres 98-08, University of Pennsylvania Center for Analytic Research and Economics in the Social Sciences.
  3. Salvador BARBER?Author-Email: & Matthew O. JACKSON, 2003. "Choosing How to Choose: Self-Stable Majority Rules and Constitutions," UFAE and IAE Working Papers 596.03, Unitat de Fonaments de l'Anàlisi Econòmica (UAB) and Institut d'Anàlisi Econòmica (CSIC).
  4. Myerson, Roger B., 2002. "Comparison of Scoring Rules in Poisson Voting Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 103(1), pages 219-251, March.
  5. Caplin, Andrew S & Nalebuff, Barry J, 1988. "On 64%-Majority Rule," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 56(4), pages 787-814, July.
  6. Giovanni Maggi & Massimo Morelli, 2006. "Self-Enforcing Voting in International Organizations," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(4), pages 1137-1158, September.
  7. Philippe Aghion & Patrick Bolton, 2003. "Incomplete Social Contracts," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(1), pages 38-67, 03.
  8. DeMeyer, Frank & Plott, Charles R, 1970. "The Probability of a Cyclical Majority," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 38(2), pages 345-54, March.
  9. B�rd Harstad, 2005. "Majority Rules and Incentives," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(4), pages 1535-1568, November.
  10. Jonathan Levin & Barry Nalebuff, 1995. "An Introduction to Vote-Counting Schemes," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 3-26, Winter.
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