Majority Rule and Utilitarian Welfare

We study the welfare properties of majority and supermajority rules when voting is costly and values, costs and electorate sizes are all random. Unlike previous work, where the electorate size was either fixed or Poisson distributed and exhibited no limiting dispersion, we study general distributions which permit substantial dispersion. We identify conditions on these distributions guaranteeing that a large election under majority rule produces the utilitarian choice with probability one. Absent these conditions, non-utilitarian outcomes are possible, as we demonstrate. We also show that majority rule is the only voting rule with the utilitarian property---strict supermajority rules are not utilitarian.

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Work Title Majority Rule and Utilitarian Welfare
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Open Access
Creators
  1. Vijay Krishna
  2. John Morgan
License CC BY-NC 4.0 (Attribution-NonCommercial)
Work Type Article
Publisher
  1. American Economic Journal: Microeconomics
Publication Date 2015
Deposited October 03, 2021

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Version 1
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    Description
    • We study the welfare properties of majority and supermajority rules when voting is costly and values, costs and electorate sizes are all random. Unlike previous work, where the electorate size was either fixed or Poisson distributed and exhibited no limiting dispersion, we study general distributions which permit substantial dispersion. We identify conditions on these distributions guaranteeing that a large election under majority rule produces the utilitarian choice with probability one. Absent these conditions, non-utilitarian outcomes are possible, as we demonstrate. We also show that majority rule is the only voting rule with the utilitarian property---strict supermajority rules are not utilitarian.
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    • http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/
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  • Added Creator John Morgan
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    License
    • http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/
    • https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html
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Version 3
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    Publisher
    • American Economic Journal: Microeconomics
  • Updated License Show Changes
    License
    • https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html
    • https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
  • Published