On the Weights of Nations: Assigning Voting Weights in a Heterogeneous Union

43 Pages Posted: 10 Jun 2004

See all articles by Salvador Barberà

Salvador Barberà

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics; Santa Fe Institute; Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2004


Consider a voting procedure where countries, states, or districts comprising a union each elect representatives who then participate in later votes at the union level on their behalf. The countries, provinces, and states may vary in their populations and composition. If we wish to maximize the total expected utility of all agents in the union, how to weight the votes of the representatives of the different countries, states or districts at the union level? We provide a simple characterization of the efficient voting rule in terms of the weights assigned to different districts and the voting threshold (how large a qualified majority is needed to induce change versus the status quo). Next, in the context of a model of the correlation structure of agents preferences, we analyze how voting weights relate to the population size of a country. We then analyze the voting weights in Council of the European Union under the Nice Treaty and the recently proposed constitution, and contrast them under different versions of our model, and compare them to the weights derived from poll data.

Keywords: Majority rule, Voting, Weighted voting, European Union

JEL Classification: D71, D72

Suggested Citation

Barberà Sàndez, Salvador and Jackson, Matthew O., On the Weights of Nations: Assigning Voting Weights in a Heterogeneous Union (May 2004). FEEM Working Paper No. 76.04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=546583 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.546583

Salvador Barberà Sàndez (Contact Author)

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona ( email )

Edifici B - Campus Bellaterra
Barcelona, 08193

Matthew O. Jackson

Stanford University - Department of Economics ( email )

Landau Economics Building
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305-6072
United States
1-650-723-3544 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~jacksonm

Santa Fe Institute

1399 Hyde Park Road
Santa Fe, NM 87501
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) ( email )

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario

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