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Preventing the Tyranny of the Majority - Experiment on Choosing Voting Thresholds behind the Veil of Ignorance

On 15th January 2018 (1-2pm) Alex Possajennikov, associate professor of the School of Economics at the University of Nottingham, will give a presentation about “Preventing the Tyranny of the Majority - Experiment on Choosing Voting Thresholds behind the Veil of Ignorance (joint work with Dirk Engelmann, Hans-Peter Grüner, Timo Hoffmann)” in Q4.245. Afterwards, Mr. Possajennikov will be available for questions and discussions. His presentation is part of https://wiwi.uni-paderborn.de/dep1/me/research/discussing-research/seam/.

Abstract:

In democracies, a simple majority of voters may choose policies that are harmful to others, even if the harm is larger than the benefit to the majority. We study how individuals choose threshold rules in voting situations, including where sub- or super-majority thresholds are optimal. In our experiment individuals choose voting thresholds knowing distributions of possible valuations of alternatives but not knowing their own valuation. On average, subjects indeed propose more extreme thresholds for more skewed distributions. However, there are also suboptimal choices, leading to possible substantial welfare losses. Even within choices close to optimal, we identify systematic changes in subjects' decisions in response to variations in distribution of valuations, even if these variations do not change the optimal threshold choice.

 

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