Efficiency, Equity and Timing in Voting Mechanisms

57 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2005

See all articles by Marco Battaglini

Marco Battaglini

Princeton University - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics

Thomas R. Palfrey

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences

Date Written: October 2005

Abstract

We compare the behaviour of voters, depending on whether they operate under sequential and simultaneous voting rules, when voting is costly and information is incomplete. In many real political institutions, ranging from small committees to mass elections, voting is sequential, which allows some voters to know the choices of earlier voters. For a stylized model, we characterize the equilibria for this rule, and compare it to simultaneous voting, and show how these equilibria vary for different voting costs. This generates a variety of predictions about the relative efficiency and equity of these two systems, which we test using controlled laboratory experiments. Most of the qualitative predictions are supported by the data, but there are significant departures from the predicted equilibrium strategies, in both the sequential and simultaneous voting games. We find a tradeoff between information aggregation, efficiency, and equity in sequential voting: a sequential voting rule aggregates information better, and produces more efficient outcomes on average, compared to simultaneous voting, but sequential voting leads to significant inequities, with later voters benefiting at the expense of early voters.

Keywords: Committees, costly voting, information aggregation, sequential voting

JEL Classification: D71, D72

Suggested Citation

Battaglini, Marco and Morton, Rebecca and Palfrey, Thomas R., Efficiency, Equity and Timing in Voting Mechanisms (October 2005). CEPR Discussion Paper No. 5291. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=872750

Marco Battaglini (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Department of Economics ( email )

213 Fisher Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544
United States
609-258-4002 (Phone)
609-258-6419 (Fax)

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Rebecca Morton

New York University (NYU) - Wilf Family Department of Politics ( email )

715 Broadway
New York, NY 10003
United States
212-998-3706 (Phone)

Thomas R. Palfrey

California Institute of Technology - Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences ( email )

1200 East California Blvd.
301A Baxter Hall
Pasadena, CA 91125
United States
626-395-4088 (Phone)
626-4432-1726 (Fax)

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