ECN 226: Theory of Social Choice

Spring 2013
Dr. Jac Heckelman
Carswell 122
x5923
heckeljc@wfu.edu
http:\\www.wfu.edu\~heckeljc\jac.htm

Social choice theory focuses mainly on the incentives voters face under alternative voting arrangements. When individuals form groups, conflicts naturally occur, and decisions must be reached as to how these conflicts will be resolved. In a democratic environment, voting is the main avenue for deciding how to proceed. The issues may involve selecting representatives or specific proposals. But if the entire group cannot agree, how should consensus be determined?

In this course, the implications of various voting rules will be considered both in terms of individual voting incentives and aggregation to group decisions. Social choice analysis is designed to determine how well a given voting rule will lead to outcomes which best represent the desires of the group members. However, group members as voters may not reveal their true preferences if they determine that voting differently would better their chance for a more preferred outcome. Voting rules will therefore be considered for their impact on voting incentives, by making comparisons under “sincere” versus “strategic” voting.

TEXTS

EXAMS

PAPER (20%)

HOMEWORK AND PARTICIPATION (10%)

READING SCHEDULE

1. Introduction

  • Shepsle, ch 1
  • Johnson, “Constitutional Economics” {1/22}
  • Taylor and Pacelli, ch 1, pp 1-10
  • Shepsle, ch 2, 3
  • Dahl, “Majority Rule and the Democratic Process” {1/29}
  • 2. Median Voter Spatial Models

  • Shepsle, ch 5, pp. 90-99, 110-123; ch 4 (skip pp. 67-82)
  • Fiorina, “Do Voters Choose Divided Government?” {2/7}
  • Shepsle, ch 5, pp. 99-110
  • Problem Set 1: Shepsle, ch 5, #1, 7, 10 {2/14}
  • 3. Strategic Voting

  • Taylor and Pacelli, ch 4
  • Shepsle, ch 3,6
  • Dixit and Nalebuff, “The Strategy of Voting” {2/19}
  • Problem Set 2: Shepsle, ch 3, #4; ch 6, #7; game tree; Dixit and Nalebuff 7 {9/29}
  • EXAM 1 (sections 1-3) {2/21}


    4. Alternative Voting Procedures

  • Shepsle, ch 7, pp 191-210
  • Taylor and Pacelli, ch 1, pp 10-35
  • Brams and Fishburn, “The Mixed Success of Approval Voting” {3/19}
  • Problem Set 3: Shepsle, ch 7, #1, 2; ch 2, #6 {3/21}
  • Mueller, “Probabilistic Majority Rule” {3/21}
  • Problem Set 4: Shepsle, ch 3, #2; ch 4, #4; game tree; PMR exercise (on Sakai){3/20}

  • 5. Impossibility Theorems

  • Shepsle, ch 4, pp 67-82
  • Taylor and Pacelli, ch 7, pp 205-222
  • Hammond, “Rank Injustice?” {4/2}
  • Problem Set 5: Shepsle, ch 4, # 2, 5 {4/2}
  • EXAM 2 (sections 4-5) {4/4}


    6. The Calculus of Voting

  • Shepsle, ch 9 (skip pp. 276-292)
  • Problem Set 6: Shepsle, ch 9, #5, 8 {4/11}
  • Heckelman, “Bribing Voters Without Verification” {4/16}
  • Guest Lecture: Sen, “Impossibility of a Paretian Liberal” {4/18}

    PRESENTATIONS {4/22*, 4/23, 4/25}
    NOTE: special class day held on Monday, 4/22 at 3:30pm


    7. Comparison of Economic vs Political Approach

  • Shepsle, ch 17
  • Guest Debate: Buchanan, “Public Choice: Politics without Romance” {4/30}
  • FINAL EXAM (sections 1-7) {5/4, 10am - SET IN STONE}