Majority Rule and Utilitarian Welfare

43 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2012  

Vijay Krishna

Penn State University

John Morgan

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group

Date Written: June 5, 2012

Abstract

Majority rule is known to be at odds with utilitarianism --- majority rule follows the preferences of the median voter whereas a utilitarian planner would follow the preferences of the mean voter. In this paper, we show that when voting is costly and voluntary, turnout endogenously adjusts so that the two are completely reconciled: In large elections, majority rule is utilitarian. We also show that majority rule is unique in this respect: Among all supermajority rules, only majority rule is utilitarian. Finally, we show that majority rule is utilitarian even in the presence of aggregate uncertainty, a robustness not shared by other results on the welfare properties of majority rule.

Keywords: Majority rule, Utilitarianism, Costly Voting

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Krishna, Vijay and Morgan, John, Majority Rule and Utilitarian Welfare (June 5, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2083248 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2083248

Vijay Krishna (Contact Author)

Penn State University ( email )

Kern 516
University Park, PA 16802-3306
United States
814-863-8543 (Phone)
814-863-4775 (Fax)

John Morgan

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-2669 (Phone)
810-885-5959 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/rjmorgan/

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