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On the justice of voting systems

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Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Jose Apesteguia & Miguel A. Ballester & Rosa Ferrer, 2006. "On the justice of voting systems," Economics Working Papers 987, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
  • Handle: RePEc:upf:upfgen:987
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    1. Salvador Barbera & Matthew O. Jackson, 2002. "Choosing How to Choose: Self Stable Majority Rules," Microeconomics 0211003, EconWPA.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voting; Scoring Rules; Utilitarianism; Maximin; Maximax; Impartial Culture Condition;

    JEL classification:

    • D00 - Microeconomics - - General - - - General
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • 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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