Majority Rule and Utilitarian Welfare
43 Pages Posted: 13 Jun 2012
Date Written: June 5, 2012
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: Suggested Citation